By Chris Harris
Gervinho should have no trouble fitting into Arsène Wenger's squad because he's been playing 'the Arsenal way' since he was a boy.
The Ivory Coast star finalised his move from Lille to Emirates Stadium on Monday to become Wenger's second signing of the summer and he is the latest in a long line of graduates from the ASEC academy to complete the journey from Abidjan to the Premier League.
Like Kolo Toure and Emmanuel Eboue before him, Gervinho trained under Jean-Marc Guillou before leaving for Europe. The 24-year-old showed his pedigree by inspiring Lille to the French title last season and he believes he can scale new heights under the tutelage of Wenger.
"It’s a great feeling to be an Arsenal player," he told Arsenal.com. "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.
"Arsenal is an attractive club to me because when I was a kid at the ASEC academy in Abidjan, we were educated to play football the way Arsenal plays. We were lucky to have a coach at the time [Guillou] who had that philosophy. So we tried to play like Arsenal and, since then, I have always wanted to be an Arsenal player. And now I am, so I am delighted.
"I am very happy to be able to work with Arsène Wenger. I came here because I believe that he can make me improve more. In Lille, I worked very well with the manager over there [Rudy Garcia] and I improved with him but I think that with Arsène Wenger I will reach another level in my career."
The Arsenal manager has already hailed Gervinho's versatility - he can play on either flank or through the middle - and the new signing has a rather appropriate hero given his new surroundings.
"Regarding my position, I feel really comfortable in any position up front," said Gervinho. "The most important thing is that I bring a lot to the team wherever I am playing. My idol has always been Thierry Henry.”
Read more from Gervinho in the latest edition of the Official Arsenal Magazine, along with exclusive interviews with Arsène Wenger, Thierry Henry and Ellen White. Available from newsagents and Arsenal Club Shops from Thursday, you can subscribe by calling 0845 301 7626 or clicking here.Copyright 2017 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.arsenal.com as the source