For those who haven’t been paying attention to the transfer speculation lately, early reports suggest that Arsenal have agreed to purchase Lille OSC’s Gervinho, and Velez Sarsfield’s Ricardo Alvarez. While these reports are far from confirmed, we still felt it necessary to take a brief look at who these world footballers are and suggest what they might add to the Arsenal team.
Height/Position: 5’11 / RWF or CF
Current club: Lille OSC (Ligue 1 Champions 10-11)
Caps: 27 (Cote d’Ivoire)
Coming off a career-best season with Lille – which saw the French upstarts win Ligue 1’s Championship for the third time in their club’s history – Gervinho has voiced his desire to play at the next level, including the Champions League. He was an impressive figure in the club’s run to the title, with 15 goals in 35 appearances while finding a wonderful chemistry Lille’s other rising star, Eden Hazard.
With relative height and good speed, Gervinho would give Arsenal another option at CF, covering for the oft-injured Robin van Persie, the outbound Nik’ Bendtner, and the (temporarily?) misfiring Marouane Chamakh. However his real value may be playing as a rightwing forward, a position that has seen it’s share of Arsenal players struggle therein; Bendtner was never a good fit out there, and Walcott continues to look iffy as an attacking winger.
The concern however is that he may be something like Chamakh; a star in France who struggles against the better defenses of Premiership teams (with no disrespect to the French league). While MC29 enjoyed a good start to his Arsenal career, he seemed to fade by December, and Arsenal fans would be wary of seeing the same of Gervinho after what is an estimated 13m pound price tag.
Height/Position: 6’2 / AMF
Current club: Velez Sarsfield (Argentina Primera Division 2010-11 Champions)
Ricardo Alvarez is a relative unknown quantity to many football fans outside of Argentina, but it appears that he will be on his way to London after Palermo president Maurizio Zamparini claimed his Italian side could not buy the player as he was “already signed for Arsenal”. Though this could be misinterpreted, one suspects the president of a football club – a club that has chased the player since January – would be a relatively legitimate source of information.
What is known about the player is that at 6’2, he would give Arsenal some definite size in the midfield. Built over the last few years as a small, technically-gifted team meant to outpossess (in the style that Spain employs masterfully at senior and U-21 international levels), Arsenal has struggled at times against the sheer physicality of England’s many 6-foot-plus players. While it may be a gross overstatement this early in the transfer window, it could potentially be a sign that Wenger is looking to move back towards his earlier philosophy of taller, bigger players that we saw more of in the League winning teams of 98, 02 and 04.
What is also known about Alvarez is that he is a left-footed player that isn’t shot-shy. Arsenal have struggled to put threatening efforts on goal from the 18 and beyond, and an AMF that is willing to have a go might give Arsenal a versatility that appeared lacking in the 10-11 season. As well, as a natural AMF, he may suit the role better than Cesc or Nasri who are better as central/playmaking midfielders.
As with most “unproven” players however, there are doubts about his ability to play at the next level, and some fans are unhappy that Arsenal may be opting for overseas buys when experienced players like Ashley Young are, or were, available.