While the taste for football is growing among the Persian Gulf, the news stemming from the region lately has been pretty grim. Between alleged bribes among World Cup officials and casualties among the men and women building the grounds, seldom is a ray of sunshine seen from this region (in terms of football, of course), but today many a Roma fan the world over has reason to smile thanks to the fine folks in the United Arab Emirates.
Given the lackluster competition in the region's professional leagues, the respective clubs of the UAE Arabian Gulf League often have to overpay to recruit footballing talent to the region, shelling out millions of dollars for players like Mirko Vucinic and, once upon a time, Luca Toni.
Well, if the rumors prove true, we may have to add Gervinho that list, as Abu Dhabi side Al Jazira are reportedly keen on his signature. With a reported €15m transfer fee, Roma would make an almost 50% profit on the Ivorian winger, while The Predator himself would reportedly triple his wages to nearly €9m per year.
Professional footballers pride themselves on competing with the best, but a 300% raise speaks for itself. While Gervinho never enjoyed the full support of the fanbase, had this story popped up last season, it probably wouldn't have been greeted with the same level of applause it is now.
After scoring nine goals and contributing ten assists in league play, Gervinho appeared reborn. No longer a laughingstock, Gervinho appeared like an indispensable part of Roma's future, providing unparalleled athleticism on the wings and a new, slightly more efficient eye for goal. The future was bright, indeed.
However, after suffering through an injury plagued campaign, Gervinho saw his standing with the club slip, as he seemingly never got back onto the right foot following the Africa Cup of Nations this winter, managing only two goals in 24 appearances.
Whether or not we can chalk this swoon up to a post AFCON hangover may not matter, that kind of money has a way of making decisions of its own, particularly as Roma is reportedly hot on the heels of a multitude of wingers, from Juan Cuadradro to Andre Ayew to Yehven Konoplyanka.