14 June 2013

Time to bid Gervinho adieu...

First and foremost, let me preface what follows: I like Gervinho and wish him nothing but the best. He doesn't strike me as a loafer. He genuinely seems to want to do well, and he has shown in bits and flashes that he does have some quality. However, as we've learned in the past from holding onto limited players, hoping to loan them out to develop, we simply have to find a way to move a player while we still can. It's a shame that Arshavin faded so fast, Squillaci just never amounted to much, and Fabianski never truly impressed, but it's also a bit of a shame that they're out of contract. We lost out on possible transfer-fees, and they carry a dented reputation. Once they've gone out of contract, it's that much harder for them or their agents to convince other teams to give them a chance.

Gervinho's had two years now to adjust to Prem life, and, if anything, he's regressed. In the 2011-12 season, he made 28 appearances (nine as a sub) and tallied four goals and six assists. In this past season, he made only 18 appearances (six as a sub). While he managed one more goal, he added just three assists. When he's on, he can very good. However, he's so rarely on. In this past season, he went on one heck of a purple-patch, with five goals and an assist in six games, earning three MOTM awards from whoscored.com. Then, there was nothing. 14 matches with a lone assist. To be fair, he subbed on in a few of these matches for 10 minutes or less, but we're still looking at 705 minutes of action with very little, um, action. He did hit an oasis of sorts, adding two goals and three assists in three matches, but that's all it was: an oasis amid a dry, expansive desert. If that dry spell were the result of hitting the woodwork, great saves from keepers, goal-line clearances, and the like, we could be more charitable in our assessment.

However, as we know all too well, Gervinho lacks the confidence and skill that a reliable if not lethal finisher needs. He scuffs too many, mishits others, misses sitters...it's ludicrously tragic. Or tragically ludicrous. I can't decide which. However, it's a problem that compounds itself. One error seems to doom the, sending him on a downward spiral of self-doubt that prevents him from accomplishing much else. He disappears from matches all too often and struggles to find other ways to contribute. He's so right-footed it's a wonder to me that defenders don't just park on his right hip and dare him to go left.

I don't mean to bash the lad, so I'll stop there. He's playing for one of the Prem's most demanding fan-bases, and the pressure might just be too much for him here. If Ligue 1's Marseille is interested, this could be good news for all involved. Gervinho finds a home that permits him somewhat less pressure and scrutiny, Marseille gets a striker with two seasons of action in the Prem and Champions League (albeit a bit worse for wear), and we get to unload a player who just didn't make the grade. In fact, the only drawback to the move would be the prospect of a reunion with Joey Barton. Just typing that name chafes me. Then again, maybe it would give Gervinho a chance to finish what he started with that oaf back in 2011.

If Marseille is willing to take him and hold onto Barton for another season, that's their problem. We have enough headaches of our own. Look at the trouble we've had unloading the likes of Bendtner, Aboue, and Chamakh. The longer we hold onto Gervinho, the harder it may get to move him along. I'm not terribly concerned with the transfer-fee we get. I doubt we'll recoup what we spent, but I worry that holding out for a better deal will only backfire, leaving us stuck together for another six months. If Marseille is willing to pay, say, £7m for him, I say take it.

Maybe I'm wrong, though. I'd be willing to admit it. Is there something that Gervinho brings (or could bring to the squad? I'm all ears.