Lille and Arsenal open Gervinho talks

Ligue 1 champions Lille have begun talks with Premier League side Arsenal regarding the transfer of Ivorian star Gervinho.

The in-demand playmaker, who helped Lille win the league and cup double by scoring 16 goals in 2010/11, recently expressed his intent to leave the French club, with a move to England his main priority.

With the likes of Newcastle and Tottenham Hotspur waiting in the wings, it is believed that the Gunners are leading the chase for the talented 24-year-old.

Lille general manager Frederic Paquet told RMC Radio that it is Arsenal who have made contact, with the two teams set to hold talks. 

"He actually wants to go," Paquet said.

"We have developed contacts with Arsenal. We will soon discuss with them to see what they want.

"He expressed his desire to leave for England so we'll see what will happen.

"Gervinho chose to leave for England, so that limits the scope of the situation.

"We will meet soon with Arsenal, see what they offer - but he is a player of value."

By Matt Maltby