Lille have confirmed that the club will hold talks with Arsenal over the proposed sale of striker Gervinho within the coming weeks. 24-year-old Gervinho was one of Lille’s most important player’s during an extraordinary season in which they won the French league title and domestic cup. However, it seems that Gervinho, whose contract expires next summer, has decided that the coming transfer window would be an appropriate time to move to a bigger European club.
Arsenal have always been favourites to land him ahead of the likes of Newcastle, Manchester City, Tottenham and Liverpool – who are all thought to be interested in signing him over the summer. Last week, many of the tabloids reported that Lille turned down an offer from Spurs, but it has now emerged that Arsenal have entered into negotiations with the attacker.
Speaking on French radio station RMC, Lille general director Frederic Paquet revealed that the Ivory Coast international is already in advanced talks with the club:
“He [Gervinho] wants to leave the club and is in advanced talks with Arsenal.
“We have developed contacts with Arsenal. We will soon discuss with them to see what they want. He has expressed his desire to move to England. We’ll see what happens now.
“Paris Saint-Germain have made an enquiry, but we have no intention of selling to domestic rivals. Gervinho chose to leave for England, so that limits the options. We will soon meet with Arsenal and see what they offer. He clearly is a player of value.”
Paquet also revealed that Lille have reached an agreement with their other star striker Eden Hazard, who will most likely remain at the club for at least one more season. Arsenal had been linked with a move for Hazard, but Lille made it clear that they would only let one of their strikers leave this summer. Gervinho was always the most likely of the two to leave the club after refusing to sign a contract extension.
“Today it’s clear, and we’ve agreed with the player [Hazard]. We want to be together next season. On the other side, it would be a lie to say that we would not be made to think by an indecent sum. There are no numbers.”
Arsène Wenger is thought to have been a long-time admirer of Gervinho; it is widely believed that the club had made an offer Gervinho while he was playing for K.S.K. Beveren in Belgium during the 2006/07 season (before he transfered to Le Mans). The statement from Paquet means that this transfer is looking even more likely. There is no reason for Gervinho to move to any of the other Premier League clubs he has been linked with because none of them offer Champions League football (except for Man City), which he would have access to if he were to stay at Lille.
Athough the purchase of Gervinho would be a great signing for the club, Arsène Wenger must follow it up with other quality signings. One player alone is not enough to carry the club forward, no matter how great a potential he may have. Hopefully this signing will be the first of many as Wenger looks to rebuild the squad and prepares to mount a serious title challenge next season.
Likeliness rating: 4.5/5