Wenger suggests Arsenal star was scared to play at the Emirates

Arsene Wenger has been explaining his decision to sell Gervinho.

Arsenal attacker Gervinho clinched a move to Roma earlier this month, after a mixed couple of seasons at the Gunners.

He got off to a poor start, sent off on his Premier League debut after a clash with Joey Barton, but upon returning from suspension showed promise, only for his progress to be halted by the African Nations Cup.

It was perhaps unfortunate for the Ivorian that his two seasons coincided with AFCON years; in 2014 there is no tournament; disrupting his season - with both times him looking off the pace upon returning.

But in truth in his second season the rot had started to set in well before he left, with the worst performance the League Cup loss to Bradford City in which he missed an open goal.

Wenger has been explaining his decision to let him go, arguing that the attacker had become scared to play in front of the home support, the pressure inhibiting him.

He told Arsenal's official website: "I made that decision because he looked to play with a lack of confidence, especially at the Emirates. I felt that in the last six months it was very difficult for him to express his talent in a confident way.

"Then you sit there and think, 'Do I bring him back or does he need a new challenge to get that confidence back?' and I did not want to stop him from getting a new chance."

It is not a new phenomenon. England's footballers have been regularly accused of being scared to play to their potential at Wembley in competitive fixtures, such is the height of expectation upon the team. 

Wenger's decision to give Gervinho a new opportunity sounds like an unselfish one, but it could be questioned because the Gunners do not have a ready made replacement lined up, with just days before the season begins.

Gervinho was not a first choice for Arsenal, but at times last season he showed himself a useful squad player; and Arsenal's attack is now weaker.

If he is not replaced, then it could suggest further senior opportunities for Serge Gnabry. Such thinking is a double edged sword; fans want to see the exciting starlet, but it's a gamble on the manager's part given the fact he has funds available to go and buy a top quality addition.

What do you think of Wenger's comments, and decision to let Gervinho go? How should he be replaced?

image: © ronnie macdonald

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