Is Bernard intended to replace Gervinho at Arsenal?

Recent reports have linked Arsenal with highly rated Brazilian youngster Bernard of Atletico Mineiro.

The 20-year-old attacking midfielder has already earned 5 caps for his native Brazil and came through the ranks of his club to impressive effect this season. In the Copa Libertadores, Bernard scored 4 goals and made 2 assists in just 11 appearances, averaging a goal every 213 minutes from the left wing.

He’s tiny but he’s very tidy – at just five foot, four-and-a-half inches tall, his low centre of gravity lends well to his exceptional technical ability, aiding by his balance and agility on the ball.

In some way he reminds me of a younger Andre Arshavin, his tendency to weave between the lines and drop his should to turn the defender is nothing short of Arshavin-esc but I have a suspicion the young man is intended to replace Gervinho if he does sign for the Gunners, not the already departed Russian doll.

The Ivorian winger has been the epitome of ‘hit and miss’ since he arrived at the Emirates in 2011 from Lille. Unfortunately for manager Arsene Wenger he’s been far more prone to miss than hit and some of his misses have been pretty dismal this term.

The 26-year-old who has predominantly been deployed on the left flank of Wenger’s attacking trio, is currently linked with a potential move to Roma – according to reports the Serie A outfit are willing to match Gervinho’s £50,000 a week salary and have offered Arsenal £6.9 million for his transfer.

Arsenal had previously been linked with Lyon youngster Clement Grenier who is also a left-sided attacking midfielder with similar qualities to Bernard but the French talent signed a new contract with Lyon earlier this month, effectively closing the door on a transfer to North London this summer.

With Arshavin going out, one could suppose that if Bernard does indeed sign for a reported £21 million for Arsenal, the Brazilian will fill the Russian’s boots admirably. However, the increasing likelihood that Gervinho will also depart bound for the Italian capital, perhaps Bernard is intended as a replacement for him.

Gervinho managed 5 goals and 3 assists over 18 appearances in the Premier League last term but has failed to find a decent level of consistency and is one of the most unpredictable fringe players on the Gunners’ books.

The most important aspect of this deal could be the offloading of, not the players, but their wages – Arshavin had been earning £95,000 a week plus Gervinho’s £50,000 you’re looking at £145,000 a week between the pair. Whilst Arsenal let the Russian leave on a free, Gervinho’s transfer value of around £7 million would still not match Bernard’s supposed £21 million fee but, taking into account that Arsenal would likely save at least £100,000 a week which equates to £5.2 million per year.

With that in mind, it’s likely that Arsenal are intending to kill two birds with one stone and Bernard will equate to ‘one for the price of two’ – it makes sense on paper due to the fact that between the pair of them, Arshavin and Gervinho made just 25 appearances in the Premier League last term. Surely, Bernard could match that all on his own.

image: © ronnie macdonald

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