Live Transfer Deadline Day Updates

I can’t believe we’re here again.

On September 1st 2008, as the Summer window drew to a close, it was unthinkable that we wouldn’t sign a central midfielder.  I even signed off the article saying:

“The above is a bit of fun, but in seriousness, surely someone will arrive.”

And I wasn’t the only one.  Arseblogger was equally confident:

“Obviously we’re all going to be watching anxiously, breath bated, to see if Arsene gets his chequebook out. In the last couple of years we’ve done deals just as the window is about to close so it wouldn’t be a big surprise if we left it that late again. I’m hopeful we’ll bring in one, at least, and I’d love to see a couple come in.”

Instead, we watched in disbelief as Arsene Wenger spent the closing hours of the window at Underhill watching Arsenal Reserves.

The January Transfer Window was seen by all Arsenal fans as a chance to put right the mistakes of the Summer.  Yet here we are, with 17 hours remaining, and there has not been an arrival.  If the deals that are expected to go through today are completed, Arsenal and Liverpool might well end the window as the only top-flight clubs not to bring players in.  Considering the urgency with which our squad requires improvements, that is extraordinary.

It’s not, of course, entirely for lack of trying.  Our first bid for Andrei Arshavin was submitted way back on December 28th.  More than a month has passed, and no fee has been agreed.  One would imagine there will be a final push to do a deal today, as a solution would benefit all three parties.  Sky have reported that Arshavin flew to London last night, but they also reported that on Saturday, and it turned out to be utter nonsense.  I confess: I don’t hold out much hope.  And Arshavin himself seems as confused as anyone:

Clueless... 

Will Arshavin sign?  Will we make a late move to replace the injured Abou Diaby?  Will Manchester City return with an improved offer for Kolo Toure?

I will be here for the next 17 hours, attempting to answer those questions and bring you updates on the latest info as and when it arrives.  Admittedly, the first seven or so of those hours will be spent sleeping, but apart from that, I’ll be here until the window closes at 5pm London-time, with the odd little update on this blog (keep your finger on the refresh button) and odder and littler updates over on twitter.

Starting… NOW:

0000  Well, there are some bits of transfer news I didn’t bring you yesterday.  Real Madrid have swooped for the man who has arguably been Arsenal’s most consistent performer in recent seasons:

Head Groundsman Paul Burgess.

His last game at the club will be the home match with Fulham at the end of the month, and then it’s off to Madrid and La Liga.  Best of luck to Paul, who has helped produce what is surely the finest playing surface in the country.

Eighteen-year old midfielder Henri Lansbury, who was once regarded as one of the club’s top prospects but has fallen behind the likes of Wilshere and Ramsey in the pecking order, has joined Scunthorpe United on a month’s loan.  Presumably if it works out well, he’ll be staying there a little longer.

There have been a few stories floating around the internet about teenage Brazilian striker Wellington.  Well, whatever you read elsewhere, rest assured: he will join Arsenal at the end of the season, as arseblog told you a few weeks back.

And so, this most stressful of days is underway.  Join in the fun on the Guns or on twitter. 

0007 So, here’s the latest on Andrei Arshavin:

SkySportsNews say he’s on a plane.  I am doubtful. It wouldn’t surprise me if he’s still in St. Petersburg, awaiting an agreement between the clubs. I wonder how he’s passing the time till then? Do you think, in a moment of excitement, he transfered himself to Arsenal on Pro Evo and is now contemplating having to move himself back to Zenit?

Meanwhile, Zenit’s club newspaper leads with the story “ADVOCAAT: I THOUGHT ARSENAL’S FIRST OFFER FOR ARSHAVIN WAS A WIND-UP…”

Tremendous. Sounds like it’s going swimmingly.

0111 So.  Sky insist Arshavin has jetted into England, and they seem to have consulted Zenit to ratify that, with the Russian club keen to point out that no fee has yet been agreed.

Throughout this saga (and that really is the word) I’ve used two primary sources in the Russian Press: Sport-Express, and Sovietsky Sport.  I feel it’s only right that I refer to them now.  They have become like friends to me.

Sport-Express claim that Arshavin and Lachter both landed in England last night, before stating that no-one knows if a deal will be completed today or not.

Sovietsky Sport, meanwhile, have a very elaborate story which suggests that when Arshavin left Zenit’s Dubai training camp, he flew to Paris, where he has remained since.  They also say that we have raised our offer to £13m + £3m add-ons, and that it’s still not to Zenit’s liking.  They speculate, with some justification, that with Arsenal seemingly not having applied for a work permit or having conducted a medical, that a deal is unlikely.  Indeed, they lead with the headline, “Arshavin to remain in Petersburg?”

Arsene Wenger, meanwhile, has been talking about the pressure that would inevitably fall on the potential signing:

“When the biggest star is a guy who has never kicked a ball for you, it’s very difficult to understand.  We do not need an instant saviour.  There is always a danger that people always want a wonder man, but I do not believe in that.  I believe we have to keep going, and accept that the expectation level on him would be very high – if he joins us. But if he doesn’t join us, then I am not more pessimistic.”

Maybe we’ll be about to clinch a deal, and then suddenly Arshavin will announce that he just can’t handle the level of expectation, and has decided to join Spurs, where such things are considerably lower.

Speaking of Tottenham, I’m hearing from well-placed sources that they will re-sign Robbie Keane today, along with a winger on loan – indications suggest reputed former Arsenal target Ricardo Quaresma could on the way.

I’m expecting there to be plenty of activity today.  The window has been fairly quiet, but I think that’ll be forgotten in a final flurry of fiscal foolishness, with Man City at the heart of it.

It’s time for me to get some sleep now.  Who knows what might have happened by dawn?

0903 Good Morning all!  Look outside: IT’S TRANSFER DEADLINE DAY!

Let’s start with the news that Andrei Arshavin has been spotted in Hertfordshire, close to Arsenal’s Colney training ground:

Arshavin in Hertfordshire

More photos available here.  Meanwhile, Man City have denied any interest in the player, despite Dennis Lachter and Zenit attempting to drum up some up.

I reckon the snow will force the FA to be even more lenient than usual about the 1700 deadline.  It could be a long day…

0944 Just realised I’ve left the comments at the bottom of this article open by mistake. They’re closed again, for now.

Last night, Zenit St Petersburg moved to sign Hungarian left-winger Szabolcs Huszti, whose name (I imagine) is pronounced: “Ummmm…”.

The relevance of this news is that he could be seen as a potential replacement for Arshavin.  It turns out the owly little fella is currently at the hotel which doubles as my gym, about fifteen minutes down the road.  If it weren’t so freezing, I’d head over there and attempt to cuddle him.

0949 Arshavin has left and is heading back to Russia.  Not a joke or a lie.

1001 Ok.  Dennis Lachter has told Sky that the deal is off as Arsenal simply can’t afford Arshavin.  Whilst no fee has been agreed, the sticking point appears to be Arshavin’s wage demands, with suggestions that we have offered just half his current wage packet.

Arshavin has now left his Hertfordshire hotel with the intention of heading back to St. Petersburg.

I have to say, I’m pretty gutted.  Failing to pull this off and not having a viable back-up will make us look very stupid.  And the main reason we will look very stupid is that we will be very stupid.

1057  Arshavin’s agent, Dennis Lachter, has texted a friend confirming that the deal is “200% off”.  Quite depressing.

In a bid to lighten the mood, let’s decide which is funnier:

The fact that Spurs have spent £30m+ on two players who weren’t good enough to make it at Arsenal (Palacios & Bentley), or the fact that both those players would probably walk into our current midfield?

1131 Deal is off.  Great source.  Five-and-a-half hours to see if Arsene really does have “other targets”.

1133 Or maybe longer – transfer deadline extended.  This could be torture.

1146 The FA Cup replay with Cardiff, scheduled to take place tomorrow, has been postponed.  Which is a shame, because the morale boost of a cup win might be neccessary after today ends without a signings.

Have to say, I really can’t believe this is about to happen.

1223 Ok, well the sources I have close to the deal still insist the deal is off.  But a source at the Arsenal Supporter’s Trust suggests otherwise.  The AST have contact with all directors and executives, and they are still very confident a deal will be done.

God. This is exhausting.  I just pray the deadline isn’t extended.  4 hours and 33 mins left as I type this.  Not sure I could handle any longer.

1314 If Dennis Lachter is 200% sure it’s off, but the AST are 99.99% sure it’s on, does that mean it’s -100.01% likely to happen?

1327 3.5 hours left and the only IN to the Premier League so far has been veteran Greek midfielder Angelos Basinas joining Portsmouth.  Could be a manic last few hours.

1513 Ok.  Apologies for being off duty.  I had to calm down, and was still updating over on twitter.

First, some definite news: Paul Rodgers has extended his loan spell with Northampton.  Apparently he’s been doing well for them, which is nice to hear after his difficult debut for us at Burnley.

Now, ArshavinThe Goon Blog has an audio interview with a Russian journo who has spoken to the Zenit St. Petersburg press office, who are confident they’re approaching an agreement on a £15m fee is “very close”.

Apparently the “flying back to Russia” story was a smokescreen to get Sky Sports News off Arshavin’s tale and panic Zenit into reducing their price.  Sky are now also reporting that a deal is “very close”, and it seems that (as ever) Dennis Lachter is their source.

We should have an outcome one way or the other within a couple of hours.  The deadline has been extended, but only with very specific stipulations that will not apply to any Arshavin deal.  Fingers crossed.

1523 Skybet now have Arsenal at 1/7 to sign Arshavin.  5/1 on him remaining at Zenit, which is the best odds they’ve offered for some time.

1533 At 1514 Lachter told the BBC “There’s nothing new I can tell you”.  Elsewhere, there are rumours that Giovani dos Santos has failed his Portsmouth medical.  That’d be a bullet dodged for Tony Adams.  Dos Santos is terrible.

1543 The AST are still confident of a deal going ahead.  If it does, they’ll be speaking to Gunnerblog with full details of what they know of the negotiations.  But if we do get him, it seems waiting till today may have saved us £5m.

1555 Just to dampen any rising hopes, Philippe Auclair, the French journalist and pal of Arsene Wenger, told TalkSport a while ago that any deal is off.  That doesn’t match up to my sources, who suggest Arsenal are working to get something agreed before the provisional 1700 deadline.  Just over an hour left folks.  It’s going right to the wire.

1609 Sky believe that a fee and personal terms have been agreed.  However, Zenit are still demanding a sum from Arshavin to sign for Arsenal.  This isn’t just  a small figure we’re talking about – we believe it’s in the region of £2.5m.  No certainties yet.  I am quite a nervous man.

Nightmare scenario: Spurs get their £15m man and we fail to get ours.

1614 Apparently Olivier Davourt has joined Fulham.  Maybe that means we’ll cease to be linked with him every transfer window.

1819 Ok, obviously the site has gone mental and I’ve been unable to update.  And obviously, I haven’t a clue what’s going on, but it does not look good at all. We should have the bad news in official form within an hour.

1859 Blimey.  Arsene Wenger has reportedly told Sky he is “confident” that a “positive announcement” will be made tonight.  If you’re still with me, you’re very brave very strong folk.

1910 Apparently Sky say it’s finally done.  I didn’t see it myself, so a little unwilling to believe it…

1916 The Agence France Press say he has signed until 2012.  Again, nothing from Arsenal or Zenit since Zenit’s terrifying u-turn of about an hour ago.

2030 Haven’t been able to get onto the site for a long long time.  Some mad stuff going on, typified by Yahoo putting these two stories out within the same minute. 

The latest news is that we’ll probably have to wait until tomorrow to see if the deal has been rubber-stamped.  Agent Dennis Lachter told the BBC:

“It was completed in extra-time but we must wait for confirmation.  In 16 years this has been the most difficult transfer ever.”

There might be a couple more updates on here before the day is out, but I won’t guarantee it.  I’m absolutely exhausted by it all.  if the Premier League don’t confirm it tomorrow, I may just start to cry.

2354 And that’s it for the day.  Thankyou for reading – it’s been a record-breaking day on Gunnerblog.  I’ll be back with a new post in an hour or so, attempting to summarise one of the most frantic days of transfer activity I can remember.  And we still don’t know if Arshavin is our player.  Incredible.

Goodnight, and God Bless.

No more to follow.  It’s time to go to bed.

Quality deficiency makes need for Arshavin clear

Arsenal 0 – 0 West Ham
Highlights(?) here; Arsene’s reaction here

The funny thing is, the players did OK.  By their recent standards, this was by no means a poor performance – we were certainly better than at Goodison Park just a few days earlier.  On that night, we grabbed a goal we didn’t neccessarily deserve. Fortune was less kind to us yesterday, and we got exactly what was coming to us.  The simple fact is that these players do not have enough quality for a decent performance from them to guarantee a win.

I don’t think I ever envisaged seeing an Arsene Wenger side struggle to score goals.  Even at the start of this season, whilst we were poor at the lack we still had imagination and guile going forward.  Now, shorn of Fabregas and Walcott, aswell as long-term absentees Eduardo and Rosicky, we are reliant almost entirely on Robin van Persie for inspiration – the decision to rest him yesterday is one that is increasingly hard to understand in light of the result.  RotorGoat from East Lower yesterday pointed out that since the win over Man U, we’ve only scored four goals at home in the league.  Four.  We might be on an unbeaten run, but we’re not creating enough chances to win games and convert one pointers to the threes we need to catch Aston Villa.

Emmanuel Adebayor has come in for a lot of criticism of late, and he is undoubtedly looking unmotivated and out of form.  There were two half chances that, last season, would probably have found the back of the net.  However, the key problem remains the midfield unit.  The deterioration from Rosicky-Fabregas-Flamini-Hleb to Nasri-Denilson-Diaby-Eboue is painful.  The manager was fairly blasé about the possibility of signing Arshavin after the game, but a schemer of his quality would be a hugely significant addition. 

We lack quality.  We have about 27 hours to add some.

For those that are interested, the latest on Arshavin is that the player is in St. Petersburg with a private jet on standby to fly to Moscow if a deal can be agreed.  Zenit say they are still waiting for an official response from Arsenal to their compromise offer of £15m in two installments.  Arsenal, meanwhile, are playing a very dangerous waiting game, trying to negotiate the price even further towards their initial £12m offer.

If anything does happen, it’ll be tomorrow, and you’ll be able to follow the frantic final day of the transfer window both here on Gunnerblog and on twitter.  I’m taking the day off to endure the torment of us inevitably signing no-one.  Join me.  At least the blind panic will enable us to forget about the West Ham match.

‘Till then.

Arshavin has 2 days. Or 53 hours. Or 3203 minutes. Or 192216 seconds.

Ish.

Time is running out for Arsenal to complete a deal for Andrei Arshavin, but for the first time in a saga that has now run for more than a month, there does seem to be a little urgency and signs of significant progress.

Sky Sports News and Russian source Sovietsky Sport are reporting that Arshavin has left his Dubai hotel separately from his Zenit team-mates, and boarded a flight to London.  Just as Arsene refuted claims yesterday that we had applied for a work permit, the player’s representative is denying the Sky story, suggesting the player is returning to St. Petersburg as scheduled

Arsene, however, seems confident.  It is incredibly unusual for him to talk about another club’s player openly, but yesterday he was very candid about why Arshavin is a target:

“In a big club, you are always under pressure to have a player who gives you something special. It’s like that everywhere — at Real Madrid, Manchester United and Arsenal. They are the players that are most difficult to find.  He’s a guy who can go past people in the final third.  He can have the key, individually and collectively.  He is an experienced player, 27, a good age and we are a very young side. We will not have Fabregas in the next six to eight weeks, we will not have Walcott in the next five weeks, Rosicky in the next eight weeks. One more body could help us.”

There remains such a thick fog around the goings-on in this deal that it’s very difficult to read.  Even Zenit are unusually quiet.  All one can really detect with any certainty is a general movement towards a positive outcome as the window creaks closed.  I still think this will go right up till the last few hours of the window

If he does arrive, he’ll be the only man through the door, with the manager insistent that his current crop of central defenders and midfielders is good enough.  I’m not sure I agree with him there, but it is worth pointing out that Arshavin is one of a select few quality players available in January, and that is only because it’s the Russian off-season.  Whatever Arsene says now, I expect him to move for a central midfielder in the Summer, with suggestions he has already enquired about one world class player based in Spain.

Arsene is keen to tie up a deal for Robin van Persie, who (terrifyingly) joins Walcott, Toure and Gallas in having just 18 months remaining on his contract.  The manager says:

“I’m convinced it means a lot to Robin to stay here.  He wants to be part of the Club and of course we have to satisfy his demands as well. I don’t think we’re far away.  He knows how much it means to me and we will try to sort him out and Walcott. I’ve invested a lot of time in him because I feel it is important to them and it means something to them to be at this Club.”

With Robin’s current form, this deal is arguably more important than any potential signing.

Today we face in-form West Ham, whose strike partnership of Carlton Cole and David Di Michele could cause us all sorts of problems.  Cole is in the kind of rich vein of form that has deserted Emmanuel Adebayor of late, and the Togolese could well be left out today with Nicklas Bendtner starting.  Hopefully the return of Eduardo will provide Adebayor with the competition he evidently needs to motivate himself.

Other than that, the side sort of picks itself.  I’d imagine Song might drop to the bench with Diaby playing alongside Denilson, and one would expect Gallas to continue to keep out Toure.

The Hammers are playing well under Zola, but it’s a home game against a mid-table side: we ought to win.

Come On You Gunners.

I just had a bet on Arshavin to stay at Zenit

The way I see it, that makes it win-win.  If he doesn’t sign, my £10 will return as £45 and I will spend it on forgetting that the Russian ever existed.  And if he does sign, it will be feel a bit like I bought him.  For £10.

Arsene has been speaking about Arshavin in an interview with Arsenal.com which was recorded yesterday.  How the situation has progressed since then I’m not sure, but it went a bit like this:

It’s being reported today that you said that the Arshavin deal was 90% done – is that right?

AW: No… it was 90% not done!  10% done, but then at this level the percentage has not a big meaning because the 10% can quickly become the 90%.  Let’s see!  Anyway, you won’t have a long time to wait now because we are at the 29th – that means very shortly it’s the transfer deadline.

You did say you’d expect to know more in the next couple of days, so is it make or break for this deal?

Yeah, of course. 

Before the game at the weekend even?

Yes.

So you want it done by the time you kick off against West Ham?

If it can be done, of course we want to do it as quickly as possible.

Arsene went on to say that he had made enquiries about other players, but no serious bids.

Well, like I say, that interview took place about 24 hours ago, and one can only imagine Arsenal are confident of progress after the news broke that we have successfully applied for a work permit for the player.  I don’t think that’s any guarantee of a deal being done, but we’re obviously keen to have it in place incase a deal comes together in what remains of the window.  Arsene should be doing a press conference any minute now, so doubtless he’ll (refuse to) comment on that particularly tidbit.

For what it’s worth, Arshavin did not board the Zenit team bus for their friendly today, remaining in their Dubai hotel.  The Guardian, meanwhile, reports that Arshavin, Arsenal, and Zenit are close to a compromise over the moneys involved.  I think this one is going to go right to the wire.

Arsenal will apparently turn down a £12m bid for Kolo Toure.  That’s an awful lot of money for someone whose seemingly no longer first-choice and has only 18 months remaining on his contract, but I suspect the lack of time to find a suitably replacement is a big factor in our decision.

Like I say, Arsene should be speaking to the press very soon, so there should be news on that as well as West Ham’s game tomorrow morning.  Tata for now.

Van Persie’s late show continues to paper over the cracks

RVP celebrates

Everton 1 – 1 Arsenal (Cahill 62, Van Persie 90)
Highlights
here; Arsene’s reaction here

Of late, Arsenal have developed a habit of scoring late goals.  A friend pointed out last night that if our last five games had finished after eighty minutes, we’d have walked away with just six points – instead, after Robin Van Persie’s late equaliser, we have amassed eleven. 

As the headline suggests, the performance was pretty poor, and when that’s the case you are likely to be reliant on moments of individual brilliance.  If anyone can be relied upon to deliver those, it’s Van Persie: the Dutchman has scored or set-up every Arsenal goal in the month of January.  It was clear this was a season in which Robin needed to step up and start fulfilling his potential.  Thankfully, he has.

God knows where we’d be without him.  He is papering over the cracks of a side that are desperately lacking in creativity.  Indeed, if you were to continue the analogy you’d have to say that not only has he papered over the cracks – he’s wrapped himself round them like bandages.  We can only pray he himself doesn’t end up requiring similar treatment off the back of another injury.

The game itself was one of very few chances.  Perhaps it’s no surprise that it was congested – Everton’s dearth of strikers means they took to the midfield with six midfielders, which combined with four of own own and Van Persie dropping deep meant there wasn’t room to swing a cat in the middle of the pitch, let alone for Alex Song to waddle through his enormous turning circle.

Our first chance of any real note fell to Denilson, who skied it over the bar with his left foot.  Shortly after that, Everton were in front.  I doubt any sane bookmaker would’ve offered long odds on Tim Cahill scoring with a header against us, and lo and behold he did just that with a magnificent leap to beat a Baines cross.  Actually, for once bad defending wasn’t really to blame – it was just a truly excellent header.

But somehow, we managed to claw it back with our sixth injury time goal of the season.  It hadn’t looked remotely likely: despite the introduction of Nicklas Bendtner and Emmanuel Eboue, we were still struggling to offer anything at all, with Emmanuel Adebayor (admittedly deprived of service) particularly poor.

And then, just as the final whistle was about to prompt the mightiest of groans from Arsenal fans everywhere, Van Persie struck.  A long ball forward from Diaby, control on the chest, and a searing volley into the far corner.  Stunning.  Everton were the better side on the night, but it’s moments like that which separate the top four from the rest.

And make no mistake about it – the top four is what we’re aiming for.  Whilst Arsene might make the occasional noise about us being in the title race, these comments after last night’s game are far more telling:

“I maintain what I said yesterday; for me Everton is as much a threat for us as Aston Villa.”

To be honest, it’s good to see a bit of realism from the manager.  Maybe if our unbeaten run continues priorites can change, but for now it has to be about getting away from Everton and above Aston Villa to secure that priceless Champions League place.

If we’re going to do that, performances will have to be better than last night, and new signings would undoubtedly help in that respect.  Predictably, Arsene was asked about Andrei Arshavin’s proposed £15m transfer.  What’s equally unsurprising is quite how cryptic he contrived to be:

“There is nothing new, because today I have been focussed on the game, and I did not pick up any phone calls so nothing has happened. It was 90 per cent that I will be able to give you more in the next two days. Remember in this job the other 10 per cent can be more important than the other 90 because people can change their mind quickly.”

Apparently he was at pains to point out that he can’t be sure if it’s 90% on, or 90% off.  Helpful.  The comments were so confusing that Arsenal World have printed them with a slightly different meaning.  I guess the only thing we can take from it is that there should be some news either way in the next two days, though with only three working days in the transfer window remaining, even that is not particularly revelatory.

So: poor performance, decent result.  That seems to be the way it is at the moment.  It’s better than good performances and bad results, I suppose, but I as a club I suspect we’re a little more ambitious than to believe the two are mutually exclusive.

Busy day for me today.  Have a good one.