This is the one story which won’t go away and has been reported to be done but nothing is confirmed yet. Gervinho is apparently the player Arsene Wenger wants to bolster his attacking options. He is a wide attacker cum striker who is currently contracted to Lille, the Ligue 1 champions. He’s 24 years of age and is an Ivory Coast international with 27 caps. At 1.79m, he is same height as Aaron Ramsey.
I don’t watch a lot of French football and I won’t admit to be an expert of all things Gervinho. I can only based my opinion on him from the few videos that are available online and the massive informations that are available on the official Ligue 1 website. Here are some interesting stuff which I picked up from there from the 2010/11 season.
League match played : 35
Started : 33
Minutes on the pitch : 2844 minutes
Goals scored : 15 (9 home, 6 away) none from the penalty spot
Assists : 10 (8 home, 2 away) all from open play
Shots on target : 43 out of 91 shots
Offsides : 28
Yellow card : 4
Red card : 1
Fouls committed : 14
Fouls suffered : 45
What is there to read from those statistics? Well, first off is the consistency of games played. Throughout the season, he only missed 3 league matches. In the 2009/10 season, he played 32 games and scored 13 goals. Which means that he is not predominantly a player who has a massive record of injuries in recent seasons. That could only be good for us in a squad where players normally take longer to recover from injuries. On the downside, he’ll be missing in the January-February period whenever there’s the African Nation’s Cup.
The consistency continues in terms of goal scored. Meaning he will be there abouts if given a chance to play. The figure may change because it is no secret that the defending in French football and English football can be very different. His slight frame may put him at a disadvantage, coming to our team. Judging by current appearance, he looks to be similar built to Laurent Koscielny and that will be good news to the likes of Nemanja Vidic or John Terry.
From what I can see on those limited videos (which frankly from 1 video to another, doesn’t change much), he’s a nippy player who normally operates on the right side of a front 3. That is the Theo Walcott role. Even though, Gervinho looks to have more ball skill than Walcott, I would expect the Englishman to be ahead in the pecking order. That basically means that we are getting someone who will be a pacy backup when Walcott is unavailable or off-form. Which is not a bad thing considering that as a team, we do lack pace when Walcott’s performance is not flying.
That is basically how I see it. Without a change in formation or tactics, I don’t see how Gervinho will be a starter. Change of formation to a more traditional 2 strikers system might see the Ivorian get a chance as the focal of the attack. An Anelka-lite is you like. That is a role that Walcott is able to assume as well but lack the physique to excel in.
For me, this is not a transfer which makes me jump out from my seat. By that I mean, he is not world class. He could eventually be but he’s definitely not one at the moment. I also understand that it is not within Arsenal or Arsene Wenger’s policy to plump £30 million for a new signing. Gervinho range should fall somewhere between £10 million to £15 million. I get that this is the range we are looking at.
Perhaps more importantly for me, this signing is not one which I think could add to the squad and fill the missing link which are required to take us to the next level. Potentially could rival Walcott for the right side spot or provide an excellent back-up but definitely not the missing ingredient. Which is why I’m standing on the fence for this one.
I don’t mind being proven wrong though.