Arsenal linked France international reveals 'special relationship' with other club

Lille

Arsenal have been tipped to make a move for Rio Mavuba, but the Lille midfielder would prefer a reunion with coach Rudi Garcia at Roma above all else.

Since leaving Arsenal for Roma last summer, Gervinho has spoken extensively about his close relationship with Giallorossi boss Rudi Garcia.

The Ivorian underwent a renaissance at the Stadio Olimpico last season under the guidance of his former boss at Lille, banishing the poor form that had seen him become a maligned figure at the Emirates.

He attributed his revival in the Italian capital - to the tune of nine goals and 10 assists in Serie A - to the confidence he feels with Garcia on the touchline.

As it turns out, Gervinho isn’t the only ex-Lille man with ties to Arsenal who shares a strong connection with Garcia.

The Gunners are in the market for a strong defensive presence in midfield this summer with Mikel Arteta entering the final year of his contract - and quite possibly, the twilight of his career.

And Mavuba, the current Lille captain, has been named by the French press as a target for Arsene Wenger to provide the physical presence Arsenal require in the centre of the park.

But the 30-year-old has also been linked with Gervinho’s Roma, and in an interview with Corriere dello Sport this week revealed a reverence for Garcia similar to that of his erstwhile team-mate.

He told the Italian newspaper: “I have a special relationship with Rudi Garcia, he picked me as captain for Lille, so he’ll always be special to me.

“He’s an exceptional person and is a great lover of the sport, that is really infectious. I could never say no to Garcia if he wanted me to come to Roma, although there haven’t been any offers at the moment.”

Last month he implied he’s ready to leave Lille for a new challenge and it seems Roma would be his preferred destination, though by his own admission the club haven’t made a move for him.

Mavuba also won’t be thrilled at Roma’s capture of Seydou Keita and impending signing of Fenerbahce starlet Salih Ucan, as the Giallorossi may be done with midfield additions early.

This may boost Arsenal’s chances of landing the veteran’s services if they’re genuinely interested in bringing the veteran to the Premier League, though he’s made his first choice clear.

Mavuba is currently with Didier Deschamps’ France squad preparing for the World Cup in Brazil, where a good showing from the Lille skipper could see increased competition for his signature later this summer.

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