However, the Ivorian has revealed he intends to remain in North London and fight for his place in Arsene Wenger’s team. To some sections of the Gunners’ fan base that may come as a disappointment, however – he hasn’t exactly set the world on fire since he arrived back in 2011.
He’s a very peculiar case, in my estimation – it’s clear he can actually play football but his feet and his brain don’t always seem to be in agreement. When he first arrived, he looked like a decent signing. I remember him scoring a good goal in pre-season prior to the 2011/12 campaign but he was a peripheral figure after that.
Then, last term, Wenger tested him out as a central striker and, for a brief moment, he looked like he could actually be good. He sored 5 goals earlier on in the Premier League last term and even chipped in with a couple of decent assists but then he just seemed to go off the boil.
Then there was Bradford. He missed a couple of sitters. Then there was Blackburn. He missed a couple of sitters. Then he went off to the African Cup of Nations and scored 2 goals and made 3 assists in 3 games.
Consistency seems to be the problem, obviously. Not only can he not maintain any level of consistency across a whole season but he struggles to be consistent even across 90 minutes for Arsenal. He’s not consistently terrible, by any means but he’s not consistently good either.
He’s not without talent – he does possess technical skill at a very high level. He runs. He runs a lot. He runs at defenders and into space and then again he runs into defenders and off into outer space.
It’s not his ability with the ball that’s the problem, it’s his reading of the game, which, luckily for Arsenal, is something that can be trained, developed and even learned to some extent.
He has the raw ingredients; he just needs to cook them properly. The problem is also that he’s 26 now and should really be entering the peak of his powers. But he still plays the game tactically like he’s a teenager. He’s energetic, dynamic and keen to impress but he lacks end product by way of his finishing and his delivery.
However, all is not lost. He has outlined his desire to stay at Arsenal and, in Wenger he may have the ideal mentor to develop with. Even though he’s not a youngster, Wenger can help him build confidence, play to his unique strengths and, eventually, maybe just maybe be a very good player for Arsenal.
His misses in the cups looked to me like a striker playing without confidence. That is probably compounded by the fact he’s not actually a striker. He has the ability o be a great flair player though – most likely on the flanks. He’s unpredictable and his movement off the ball is generally good.
He could be like a secret weapon for Wenger next term – when all else fails, try Gervinho. The issue will always be, however, that in order to build confidence, then form, then consistency, he needs regular games and I seriously doubt he’ll get that with Arsenal next term.
He says he wants to fight for his place but is he going to be prepared to fight Olivier Giroud, Lukas Podolski, Theo Walcott, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and potentially Clement Grenier, Yaya Sanogo and or Stevan Jovetic? Its hard see where and how he’s going to get a game, realistically.
image: © Ronnie Macdonald