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:
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.
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:
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, Arshavin. The 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.