LONDON (AFP) – Ivory Coast forward Gervinho has joined Arsenal from French outfit Lille, the English Premier League club announced Monday.
“It’s a great feeling to be an Arsenal player,” said the 24-year-old who helped Lille to a French league and cup double last season with 15 goals in 40 games.
“I’m very happy. I’ve always dreamed to play for this club. I’ve achieved this dream now and I am so happy. It’s one of the most beautiful days of my life.”
Gervinho cited Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger as a key factor in his decision to move to London, saying: “I’m very happy to have the chance to work with Arsene Wenger.
“I came here because I believe that he can improve my game and help me reach another level, but the most important thing for me is that I bring a lot to the team for whom I’m playing.”
Gervinho scored 36 goals in 93 appearances during two seasons with Lille. He also captained the Ivory Coast in the 2008 Olympics in Beijing and represented his country at the 2010 World Cup, scoring twice in three substitute appearances during qualification for the finals.
So far, he has scored six goals in 27 appearances for his country.
The forward came through the same Ivorian youth academy — ASEC Mimosas — as new Arsenal team-mate Emmanuel Eboue, before following the right-back to join Belgian side KSK Beveren.
Gervinho will arrive at the London club at a tricky time for Arsenal, with long-serving Wenger under pressure to deliver a trophy after six years without silverware.
Wenger said he had been attracted by Gervinho’s versatility, and told the club’s official website: “Gervinho is a player that can play in a number of positions up front. He can play on the right, on the left and through the middle.
“He has qualities that I find very important, like his movement off the ball. He has the qualities we like technically.
“He is good one against one, he is strong and was the best provider in the French league with assists and he scored 15 goals. I think he is a very good addition to the squad.”