The last two seasons over at Arsenal, I used to laugh at one of the first really bad pieces of business that Arsene Wenger had pulled off. Although his track record is typically impressive, perhaps that is why the failing of his Gervinho purchase made such massive headlines and why it gave so much material to people of my ilk. It was also a completely new idea to see Arsenal having to sell a player for more than what they originally paid for him (11m/8m) and it is also another first-time Arsenal feeling as they are watching Gervinho succeed massively with Roma.
Although the situation currently has Gervinho’s old team atop his old league and his new team atop his new league, his performances for his new team show that there is life in Gervinho’s career in one of the top European leagues. For Arsenal, Gervinho was good for about a goal every six games. So far, for Roma, Gervinho is on pace to have a 1 goal in 2 appearances average.
What has changed for the Ivory Coast man? Serie A.
Serie A is a very different league to the EPL, a league where physical presence and tight spaces are ever-present. In Serie A, there is space all over the field from the first minute until the last. In Roma latest game against Bologna, Gervinho received the ball in space nearly every time he touched it and he took full advantage. Serie A will never be labeled as “free-flowing,” but it works to Gervinho’s playing style much better than Arsenal and the EPL.
The EPL will see you come against many teams (Sunderland, Stoke City, etc.) where they will try and beat you with their physicality and Gervinho was not meant for those types of games. In Italy, even some of the clubs that are considered “bruisers,” the physicality is diminished a bit by the style of refereeing and the way that players respond to fouls in Italy.
If you think that Gervinho was sub-par with with Arsenal, look up the highlights from the Roma-Bologna game. Both of Gervinho’s goals and all of his contributions come from when the Ivory Coast winger gets a full head of steam and is able to get a great running start at the defense. In fact, both of his goals come from runs that started somewhere close to the halfway line. In the EPL, Gervinho would have encountered a few players, then the defense, and he would have probably been slapped with a “professional foul.” In Serie A, he only has the defense in front of him.
As previously stated, it is extremely rare for Arsenal and Wenger to ever make a “bad” move in the transfer market. It is even rarer for a player to leave Arsenal and be more successful outside the Emirates. Gervinho fits both of those descriptions and he may continue to fit that bill for the entirety of his time at Roma. If you are not already enjoying Roma and Gervinho, you need to start…Serie A has been amazing so far.