The signs indicate that this week Arsenal will renew their attempts to sign the man once voted ‘Most Owlish Player in the Russian Premier League (2005/06)’: Andrei Arshavin.
Let’s start by clarifying the facts – I had a Spanish teacher who once came out with the entirely nonsensical but somewhat endearing phrase, “What you know, is what you know”. This is the same man who once translated a bit of Spanish as follows:
“And what you’re literally saying there, is to ‘deep breathly’.”
Anyway: what we know is what we know. And this is what we know Zenit & Co have said:
- Dennis Lachter, who this saga has made more famous than any contestant on Celebrity Big Brother, says he expects a move to happen this week.
- Friend to compulsive Newsnow-checkers everywhere, Zenit spokesman Alexey Petrov, says Arsenal have been invited for talks in St Petersburg on Tuesday.
- However, my man with one eye on the Russian press, Dublin Adam, points out that this piece contains quotes from Dick Advocaat saying he is not aware of any impending meeting with Arsenal, but that negotiations are ongoing.
And this what we know Arsenal have said:
- Nothing, really.
So what do I think will happen this week? Well, there isn’t much evidence to go on, and what evidence we have is somewhat contradictory. For example, the fact that Zenit have invited us to Russia is no guarantee that we’ll be able/willing to meet them there. It’s equally possible that Advocaat is simply not aware of negotiations at board-room level, and that a meeting is scheduled.
I don’t think this is a transfer that will go to the last minute. There are too many uncertainties about it. For one thing, it’s not like Arshavin can pop up the road for a medical an hour before the deadline – he’d have to come over from Russia. Throw in the fact we’d have to sort him a work permit, and it looks like this week could be make or break for the deal.
In which case, perhaps Ken Friar and Ivan Gazidis will be dispatched to see if they can broker an agreement. Our opening offer was reportedly £10m with £3m in add-ons. You’d have to think that anything hitting the £15m mark, allied to Arshavin’s own desire to leave, would be enough to force Zenit to relinquish their grasp on Russia’s most talented footballer/owl.
Arsene has pursued this player since the Summer, when he followed up a brilliant UEFA Cup campaign with some stunning performances in Euro 2008. At that stage it seemed Arshavin was well out of our price range, especially with competition from Barcelona and Tottenham, but with those vultures having sated their appetities elsewhere, and our need for creativity greater than ever, his arrival would now make plenty of sense. When faced with the choice of Arshavin or Eboue for the right wing, there can only be one reasonable answer.
I have a feeling this isn’t the last time I’ll be talking about this story this week. It could be painful – I’ve invested in it now, and thrown all my eggs into this awkward Russian basket. That never tends to turn out well – I’m sure we all remember Baptista, and even Xavi Alonso just a few months ago.
Don’t let me down this time, Arsene. Send your boys out eastwards and bring me The Birdman of Petersburg.