Zenit officially reject a £15m bid for Arshavin

As you all know by now, Zenit St. Petersburg’s board today convened to discuss Arsenal’s latest (and final) offer for Andrei Arshavin, which amounted to £12m plus £3m in bonuses.

Well, this afternoon Zenit’s own radio station confirmed that the bid had been rejected.

The Daily Mail had this morning run an oddly-worded and seemingly unsubstantiated article which suggested a deal had been agreed, but it appears they not only jumped the gun – they’re running an entirely imaginary race. 

You have to imagine that this is the final nail in the coffin of a deal that was dragged on (and on (and on (and on))).  Today is the final working day before the deadline of the 26th that we imposed upon the deal, and with the Arsenal hierarchy insistent we will not increase our bid and Arsene Wenger 98% unfussed, it seems as if Arshavin will remain a Zenit player. 

In other news, William Gallas is back to fitness, and Kieran Gibbs could start in place of the suspended (and evidently fairly relaxed) Gael Clichy.

Sorry for the bad news re The Russian, all.  Post mortem tomorrow.

Peter Hill-Wood confirms we’ve made our final Owly offer

Of all the publications in the world, Arsenal Chairman Peter Hill-Wood chooses to give his exclusive interviews to The Daily Star.  Odd.  Perhaps it’s what he reads.

In an article with the surreal and arguably misleading headline “I’LL BE SHAVIN YOU FOR £12m”, Hill-Wood confirms what Gunnerblog told you yesterday: that Arsenal will not be increasing their bid for Andrei Arshavin.

“This is our final offer – we don’t go any further. If we don’t get him, we don’t get him. There are other fish in the sea. There is a limit. We made an offer and have now increased it a bit, but we don’t do exactly what everyone wants us to do necessarily.”

So there we have it.  Zenit, meanwhile, have revealed that we have given them until Monday to reconsider our offer, whilst Dennis Lachter has labelled the St Petersburg’s club’s attitude “barbaric”.  The man stuck in the middle of this deadlocked tug of war, Andrei Arshavin, has turned to God for help.  I might suggest that getting his agent to reduce his own fee might prove to be more productive than pleading to any deity.

One can’t help but feel that it’s all a little… I don’t know… silly?  It looks like macho posturing on the part of two clubs who seem to be clinging to their principles to the point of a fault.  It would benefit both sides for a deal to happen, but inevitably it won’t as both parties wait for the other to blink first.  Still, the ‘deadline’ information does tell us one thing:

ONLY FOUR DAYS LEFT UNTIL THE END OF THIS NONSENSE.

I’ve promised that until the Arshavin story is well and truly out of the headlines, I’ll be furnishing you with other reasons to be excited.  Well, last night brought us two very very good ones:

The Reserves played out a 2-2 draw with Stoke, in a game which was notable principally for the fact that Eduardo completed his first competetive 90 mintues.  By all accounts he looked a little off the pace in the first half, but improved as the game went on, having a late goal disallowed after a neat finish.

Apart from Eduardo’s ever-nearing return, another thing to whet your appetite is yet more confirmation of the astounding potential of Jack Wilshere.  Just look at this goal:

Stunning.  There are so many players who wouldn’t even have the audacity to try that, let alone pull it off.  That was the first of a Wilshere brace.  He can’t be far from knocking on the first-team door, and perhaps that’s a factor in Arsene’s refusal to pay over the odds for a creative player.

Till tomorrow, Gunners.

Source: Arshavin deal off – So let’s find something else to get excited about…

Well, there’s only one place to start, and that’s with the news that a well-placed source confirmed to me last night that any deal for Arshavin is off the table – for now, at least.

The Zenit hierarchy have proved impossible to negotiate with – it is not so much the asking price for Arshavin that is problematic, but the constantly shifting demands that are extraneous to the fee itself.  Without wanting to say anything that could implicate a source, it’s fair to say that these two stories are both, in their own way, depressingly close to the mark.

The situation as it now stands is that Arsenal have made as many as three offers, which have all been rejected.  The information I heard last night was that those close to the deal do not expect another offer to be made.  That means that either Zenit will have to do a u-turn and accept our final offer, or the deal is off.  And if they’re ever going to do that (which I doubt), it’ll only be right at the end of the window.

A key thing to consider is that Zenit are owned by Gazprom – the largest extractor of natural gas in the world.  The financial power behind the club is extraordinary.  They have no fiscal need, whatever the current climate, to accept a bid for Arshavin.  They were only ever likely to agree to a deal if it suited them down to the last detail.

I have to admit, I do feel a little sorry for Arshavin, who is clearly desperate to move to Europe but hindered at every turn by the demands of not only his club, but his agent to boot.

As far as Arsenal are concerned, one can only hope that Arsene wasn’t lying when he said Arshavin was not his only target.  There is no doubt the Russian is a hugely talented player, but if Zenit won’t be pinned down then our time would be better spent concentrating on deals which actually have a chance of coming off.

And as for us lot – the clamouring Arsenal fans – I suggest we forget about this deal.  In fact, for the sake of our sanity and what is left of our hair, I suggest we forget about the possibility of signings entirely.  There are things at the club to be excited about that don’t involve transfer fees, agents, or deadlines.

Take for example, Samir Nasri.  When one considers we actually spent a fair chunk of money on this guy, it’s surprising his arrival wasn’t accompanied by a little more fanfare – especially when one throws in the fact that he came pre-packaged with one of the best put-together youtube compliations I’ve ever seen:

Hats off to the Marseille fan who edited that.

Despite a few injury problems, Nasri has settled exceptionally well, with six goals to his name already – a rate better than one every four games. If he carries on that pace in the second half of the season, he could end it with more goals than his predecessor, Aleksandr Hleb, scored in his entire time at Arsenal.

There are faults to his game – he occasionally drifts out of matches, and doesn’t always perform to his best level away from home. It was interesting to hear Arsene Wenger say at the weekend that Nasri requires pressure in order to perform – perhaps, like a fair few of our players, he finds it difficult to motivate himself against the smaller sides.  Looking at some of the massive fixtures we have lined up in the second half of the season, we can probably expect to see yet more from Nasri before the Summer.

When one considers that this is first season in English football and that he is still only 21 – the same age as Nicklas Bendtner – the level of performance he has delivered thus far is remarkable.  And THAT is something to be excited about.

There’ll be something else to be excited about here tomorrow.  And it won’t be anything to do with a Russian playmaker.

Arsenal refuse to meet with Zenit in Petersburg

Contrary to reports in the press this morning, Arsenal have not flown a delegation out to Moscow, or Petersburg, or anywhere like it.  When asked this morning if a fee has been agreed for the playmaker, Zenit President Maxim Mitrofanov denied any deal had been done, adding:

“Zenit are prepared to meet Arsenal to discuss this. We are ready to reduce the fee and accept certain bonus clauses as part of the agreement. But so far Arsenal have refused to increase their offer for Andrei above £12m. If the Londoners come over to Russia to meet with us there is a very good chance they will get Arshavin. But so far that hasn’t happened as Arsenal say they see no point in having discussions in St. Petersburg.”

Indications in the Russian press are that £12m is our final offer, and that at this stage we remain uwilling to go beyond that.

Arshavin and his agent, Dennis Lachter, seem relatively unconcerned.  In one interview with SovSport, Lachter talks openly about contact he’s had with Inter Milan and Juventus (whilst insisting he’s heard nothing from Man City), and in this piece he suggests Arshavin may wait till November and buy out his contract:

“Unfortunately, there is no movement and no new news this morning.  Definitely money is still the sticking point, I think Zenit is still asking for an unacceptable amount of money, they are still playing very tough – it’s the position of the club and this is the grim reality.  We will not go out of contract with Zenit in the Summer, we will wait until November. In November he will be able to use his right to buy out under Article 17 of the FIFA rules.   I believe we will have many options. He will be one of the most wanted players in World football. I can’t say if it will be Spain, Italy or England – time will tell.”

It doesn’t look great.  It is, of course, entirely possible that Lachter is using the threat of a contractual buy-out to force Zenit into accepting Arsenal’s current or next bid.  However, what seems increasingly likely is that our bid has been rejected, we’re refusing (as with Xabi Alonso) to go above that £12m figure, and Arshavin is now on the look-out for another way out.  The way this is looking,  my money would be on the latter.

So it seems this week won’t bring the good news many were hoping for.  Thanks to Dublin Adam again for the detective work and translation.  There’s still almost two weeks of this nonsense to go.  Painful.

“The Arabs are coming! The Arabs are coming!”

“…So through the night rode Ivan Gazidis;
And so through the night went his cry of alarm
Through every Russian village and farm,
A cry of defiance, yet one that won’t please-us,
A voice in the darkness – something about “City”,
And suddenly for Arsenal the outlook is shitty.
For, borne on the night-wind of Kaka’s rejection,
Mark Hughes is now plotting Arshavin’s defection;
In the hour of darkness and peril and despair,
The people will waken and listen to heed this-
The blurted cries of a CEO with no hair,
And the midnight message of Ivan Gazidis:

THE ARABS ARE COMING! THE ARABS ARE COMING!

(When you’ve trivialised the Obama election victory as readily as I have, then The American Revolution really is nothing.)

Morning all.  First, what in my opinion can only be considered good news: Kaka has rejected Manchester City – but don’t worry Noel, at least you got this guy:

Don't worry, guys!

It seems that a historic club and a highly principled individual have stood firm against swathes of cash, and however clichéd it seems I can’t help but believe that represents a victory for football.

For Arsenal fans, however, it could give cause for concern, as today’s Times’ leading story suggests:

“Now that the lure of AC Milan has trumped City, Cook [Gary – Executive Chairman] and his advisers will have to look elsewhere for their marquee signing. Andrei Arshavin, 27, the Zenit St Petersburg and Russia playmaker, is reported to be under consideration. Arshavin is Arsenal’s No 1 January target and it remains to be seen whether Mark Hughes, the City manager, would want to play Robinho and Arshavin in the same team.”

If you want to see Arshavin at Arsenal, you’d better hope Mark Hughes doesn’t fancy seeing Robinho alongside Arshavin, and instead decides to follow up the £14m signing of Bellamy with a £28m swoop for Danny Murphy.  Because if City do want Arshavin, they’ll get him.  Whilst we’ve steadily revised our bid, trying to do a deal that suits the club, City could waltz in with an offer of £20m and £100,000 p/week and blow us out of the water.

But here’s what I would say to counter that:  I don’t think Kaka was part of Hughes’ team-building strategy.  I think he was a one-off ‘marquee purchase’, as The Times call it.  On that basis, I can’t see Hughes feeling that a team containing Robinho, Wright-Phillips, and Ireland need Arshavin.  Furthermore, I don’t think the Russian has the star profile to warrant the movers-and-Sheikhers that control City forcing him upon the manager in the manner of Robinho, say, or Kaka.

On the other side of this still spinning coin is the fact that if, unlike Kaka, Arshavin sees City as a club worth joining ahead of a member of the established European elite, perhaps he’s not the kind of character we need.

In any case, we may beat City to any potential deal before the idea has even been fully hatched in their minds.  As alluded to in the bastardised poem above, representatives from Arsenal (one would guess Gazidis and Ken Friar) are believed to have jetted into Moscow to try and hammer (and sickle?) out a deal.

Zenit manager Dick Advocaat seems resigned to losing Arshavin, saying:

“Negotiations with Arsenal continue and the chances are very high that Arshavin will soon play in the English Premier League.”

Mouthy agent Dennis Lachter, meanwhile, said:

“There is no concrete news yet but on Tuesday there could be.”

Well, today is Tuesday.  But then, I can’t be sure of the exact worth of Dennis’s word.  I am, however, sure that even Manchester City wouldn’t pay very much for it.

Hurry up, Ivan, and get the deal done.  Lest you forget: The Arabs are (possibly) coming.