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Gervinho: I wasn't a failure at Arsenal

Gervinho has insisted that he retains fond memories of north London, but revels in a particular reunion at AS Roma.

The Ivorian arrived at the Emirates for £10.8 million in July 2011 to great expectations, fresh off a double-winning campaign with Lille in Ligue 1.

His Premier League career got off to an inauspicious start when he was sent off on his debut for slapping renowned wind-up artist Joey Barton – banned three games for violent conduct.

Inconsistency and a perceived lack of ability to live up to his promise saw the forward become an object of criticism for Gunners supporters, widely viewing him as a flop.

After just two seasons with Arsenal the 26-year-old would move on to Roma this past summer, personally requested by his former boss at Lille, Rudi Garcia.

But Gervinho has maintained that he still holds a certain reverence for his former club, even if his time under Arsene Wenger didn’t pan out as he’d hoped.

“I think my adventure in London was positive,” he told L’Equipe. “I have always dreamed of playing for Arsenal, and I had good times there.

“It’s just a shame I didn’t get to play more.

“But it’s not a failure.

“All leagues correspond to my qualities, I just need confidence.”

The Ivory coast international said earlier in the season that he had felt Wenger had lost belief in him, suggesting that the Frenchman played a role in his underperformance.

Garcia, however, went to lengths to bring his former charge to the Stadio Olimpico upon taking up the helm in the summer – later revealing that director of sport Walter Sabatini wasn’t keen on the signing, only agreeing at the new coach’s insistence.

And according to Gervinho, it’s this faith from the man he first plied his trade under at Le Mans that has seen him become a fan favourite in the Italian capital – where he was initially met with scepticism – in just six months.

“He [Garcia] knows me completely and knows how to give me confidence,” he added.

“He’s a person who gives me a lot both on and off the pitch.

“If I could play my whole career with him, that would suit me.

“I feel at ease, calm and liberated by his side.”

image: © Ronnie Macdonald

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