Gervais Yao Kouassi, with a Brazilian nickname ‘Gervinho’ had been under Arsene’s radar from the start of this transfer window. The Ivory Coast International is an exciting prospect waiting in the ‘wings’ to start his new career at North London as the Premiership starts in a month’s time. Signed at an estimated price of 10 Million from the French Champions, Lille, the striker is a great addition to Arsene’s resources at The Emirates.

Profile

After having two very average stints at Beveren in the Belgian League and then Le Mans in the French Ligue 1, Gervinho was signed by Lille in 2009. Stade Lille-Metropole became the African’s ‘playground’ where he frustrated defenders with his skill and technique. Meanwhile, Gervinho was doing well internationally too; having captained the U-23 Ivory Coast side in the 2008 Beijing Olympics, he became an important part of the senior team. He helped the Elephants in the qualifying stages with significant performances. In the World Cup, he managed to make a few sporadic appearances, adding two goals to his tally and also attracting a lot of European clubs.

Gervinho - Playing for the Elephants

Strengths

Arsenal needed a left-winger who would be ‘natural’ with his left-foot and yet would be capable of cutting in to score goals. Gervinho impeccably fulfills that criterion and even adds more to the “package” that he brings along to the club. The winger/striker possesses amazing dribbling skills and shooting ability which is important to the Arsenal system which has gone a bit dull nowadays. The most important aspect of Gervinho is his “direct approach” to the game which would come in very handy when Arsenal play “strict-defending” teams at home in the league. When goals would be hard to come by in matches against “lower” teams, Gervinho’s incisiveness would be very useful to break the opponent defense and the monotone of the team’s obvious handicap in such situations. The striker has a very decent first-touch too which would be a significant improvement over the possibly departing Bendtner.

Weaknesses

With all the showmanship to impress players and fans alike, Gervinho might be exposed to the league against teams with a lot of physical presence. He needs to work on his physicality if he wants to survive in the English League, which is a completely different cup of tea compared to Ligue 1. It is a different thing to show all skills and flair in a lesser league and then come to the English League, where one gets impeded time and again. It can get frustrating for a skillful player to come to the league and get exposed to a plethora of tackles from the stiff opposition. He needs to slowly build a chemistry with the team and try to make himself a regular in the starting XI.

Impact at Lille

Stats:

2009-10 Season – Matches Started 28 | Goals Scored 13 | Assists 4

2010-11 Season – Matches Started 32 | Goals Scored 14 | Assists 10

The striker had a huge impact at France in his last two seasons with Lille, helping them to win the league in 2010-11. He had a total of 28 goals and 14 assists in his spell at the club. The striker literally ‘toyed’ with defenders in the ‘just-concluded’ season, scoring solo-goals with precision technique accompanied by tremendous pace and control. It was almost inevitable at the end of last season with Lille, that he would go to a bigger club in Europe with just an year left in his contract. Having showed his liking for Arsenal already, it was an Arshavin-like signing, both player and fans knowing that it would happen but with the unavoidable delay.

 

Champion with Lille

Final Verdict

As far as the versatility of the player goes, he has scored a lot of goals with his right foot too, which makes him a better asset compared to former Gunner, Jose Antonio Reyes, who was a similar kind of player. If he can manage to stay injury-free at the club, not getting infected by the famous “Injury Virus“, he can be a great asset to the side challenging for silverware next season. The kind of combination that Gervinho established with Hazard at Lille was extremely delightful to watch and Arsene would be hoping for him to find the same with Cesc at Arsenal. He could be used as a second striker if Arsene deploys a 4-4-2 or a winger-cum-striker if a 4-3-3 is rolled out. If the second formation is installed, he would be fighting for his place in the squad with Arshavin and Vela, which is a good thing for all the three. In the case of a 4-4-2, his obvious competitor would be the Moroccan.

Competing with Chamakh already, his latest quotes were –

Do not compare me to Chamakh. I’m going to Arsenal to play and be in the action. I’m not going there to sit on bench.

We shall soon see where his ‘rightful’ place is, at Arsenal Football Club.

Rating: 8.5/10

Gervinho – “The Future is Mine”