When Arsenal agreed to let Gervinho join AS Roma this summer, you certainly would not have found many, if any, Arsenal fans shedding a tear over his departure.
The Ivorian never managed to live up to his £10.8 million price-tag and his poor decision making, goal return and often clumsy demeanour on the field of play was never much of an endearing factor to the Arsenal faithful.
But at 26-years-old there is still plenty of time ahead of his career, so there was always going to be a degree of interest in his services this summer. When Rudi Garcia took over at Roma, the former Lille boss saw an opportunity to reacquaint himself with a player who experienced great success under him in the North of France.
He joined the Giallorossi for £8 million - almost a £3 million loss - on the 8th August 2013 and has so far played three games for the club - but none will be more intense than the fixture he finds himself involved in on Sunday afternoon.
Gervinho will have his first experience of the Rome derby when Roma and LAzio take each other on in the Stadio Olimpico.
The fans of these two sides have differing political ideologies as well as footballing ones -so clashes are not uncommon. That is just the fans, the players are not much better with red cards common in the fixture.
The game will be tense, and noisy but Gervinho has certainly played in the odd derby or two - including of course the North London derby.
But Gervinho is in no doubt, that the Rome derby is certainly the most impassioned of the derby matches he has been involved in:
“We have not spoken yet but I already know what the expectations are. Prior to the start of the season the fans are already talking about it. I’ve played some derbies in the past, both in Lille and in London, but this is probably the most keenly felt. We should not repeat past mistakes, it is a big game and has to be won. The intensity of the game will be very high, with many opportunities, exciting. I hope the fans will be at their maximum to support us but the important thing is that Roma could win the game. I only ask for maximum support and encouragement. We will do our best for a game that at the end I think we could win. Forza Roma!”
Now I am not about to comment on the differing emotions involved in separate derbies, but Gervinho would have to say this anyway. Roma fans run players out of the club if they do not take the rivalry seriously, Southampton record signing Daniel Osvaldo can testify to that.
So he might not mean it, but either way it doesn’t matter … he is not Arsenal’s problem anymore, and we wish him luck in front of the Lazio fans this weekend.
image: © ronnie macdonald