Across The Pond: Waiting For Arshavin
Even though it was announced last week that Kaka would be spurning Manchester City to stay with AC Milan, there is still one more ridiculous transfer saga to be wrapped up before the window closes.
I am of course talking about Andrei Arshavin's protracted move away from Zenit St. Petersburg.
Arshavin's stock rose exponentially during the past summer when his performances for the Russian National Team helped them advance deep into Euro 2008. It was inevitable that he would become a target for a perennial Champions League club somewhere in Western Europe.
It has been several months since the first "credible" rumours of Arhsavin's imminent departure were reported, and he's still stuck in St. Petersburg.
Here is a brief timeline of the saga, beginning in June of 2008.
13 June 2008: Manchester City have been given a week to sign Zenit St Petersburg playmaker Andrei Arshavin (The Sun)
14 June 2008: Newcastle have moved for Zenit St Petersburg's Russia striker Andrei Arshavin, who is available at £11million (Daily Mirror)
20 June 2008: Arsenal could attempt to sign Russia's Andrei Arshavin as a replacement for Emmanuel Adebayor, should the Togo striker move to Barcelona or AC Milan (Daily Telegraph)
23 June 2008: Russia's sports minister Vitaly Mutko has said it would be Arshavin's "dream" to play for Barcelona but revealed it was unlikely the Catalans would be able to improve on the Zenit St Petersburg player's £50,000-a-week, plus bonuses, salary (The Guardian)
23 June 2008: Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich has told Scolari to forget signing the Portugal midfielder as he is ready to sanction a £20m bid for Russian playmaker Andrei Arshavin (Daily Star)
3 July 2008: Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger is leading the chase for Russia and Zenit St Petersburg playmaker Andrei Arshavin (The Sun)
3 July 2008: Arshavin is actually on his way to Chelsea, who have had a bid accepted by Zenit and the player is now London-bound to hold personal talks (Daily Mirror)
15 July 2008: Andrei Arshavin's agent says Arsenal would be an ideal destination for the Russia and Zenit St Petersburg forward because of the influence of Gunners boss Arsene Wenger (The Sun)
22 July 2008: Tottenham boss Juande Ramos has been told to increase his £16m offer for Zenit St Petersburg forward Andrei Arshavin. Zenit want £21.5m (The Sun)
23 August 2008: Andrei Arshavin could finally be on his way to Tottenham after Zenit St Petersburgh agreed to lower their £20m price tag (The Times)
26 August 2008: Uefa Cup champions Zenit Petersburg are attempting to offload striker Andrei Arshavin to Chelsea after his protracted move to Tottenham collapsed (The Express)
24 September 2008: Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy is confident of signing Zenit St Petersburg forward Andrei Arshavin in a £15m deal in the January transfer window (Daily Mirror)
11 November 2008: Andrei Arshavin looks set to leave Zenit St Petersburg, with Tottenham interested in the Russian striker (Daily Mirror)
17 December 2008: Russia forward Andrei Arshavin is seeking a move to either Manchester United or Chelsea after being told he can leave Zenit St Petersburg next month (The Sun)
23 December 2008: Arsenal are lining up a move for £20m-rated Russian forward Andrei Arshavin (Daily Mirror)
31 December 2008: Zenit St Petersburg midfielder Andrei Arshavin is prepared to take a pay cut from his current wages of £90,000-a-week to clinch a £12m move to Arsenal (Daily Mirror)
1 January 2009: Arsenal will face competition from Italian giants Juventus for Zenit St Petersburg playmaker Andrei Arshavin (Daily Mirror)
11 January 2009: Arsenal's attempt to sign Andrei Arshavin could be hijacked by Manchester City, who have agreed an £18m deal with Zenit St Petersburg (Daily Mirror)
12 January 2009: Zenit St Petersburg forward Andrei Arshavin will sign for Arsenal in the January transfer window, despite the Russian club turning down a £10m bid (The Sun)
14 January 2009: Inter Milan could hijack Arsenal's bid for Zenit St Petersburg striker Andrei Arshavin (Daily Star)
24 January 2009: Zenit St Petersburg playmaker Andrei Arshavin may go on strike if he does not end up getting his move to Arsenal this month. The Gunners faxed over their final offer on Friday (The Guardian)
That was a ridiculous list, and believe it or not, it was actually abbreviated.
For those of you keeping track at home, Arsenal, Inter, Man City, Juve, Man United, Chelsea, Tottenham, Newcastle and Barcelona have all been linked with Arshavin since last summer.
I see it as just a bunch of reasons to not trust the rumour mill.
There are many different issues at work in this transfer saga. First and foremost is Zenit's reluctance to sell. They don't need the cash that Arshavin's transfer would generate and seem happy to continue plodding along with a discontented striker on their roster.
I know the club doesn't need the money, but if Arshavin doesn't move during the transfer window, he'll surely leave Zenit when his contract is up, meaning that the club would lose him without any compensation. This would be a foolish move on their part.
There is also the issue of Arshavin attempting to hold his club hostage by threatening to strike. Whatever happened to honoring a contract? Unless he was coerced into signing the deal, he should honor his contract regardless of how unhappy staying at Zenit would make him.
It seems as if clubs actually have very little power when it comes to hanging onto their players. The players are able to force transfers or in some cases, leave despite being under contract anyway. That's what happened with Alex Hleb over the summer. I fail to see the point of a contract if it isn't actually going to bind the player to anything.
The last issue is the most humourous.
The posturing of all of these different clubs, believing that they are only inches away from a deal with Arhsavin, has actually been pretty funny to watch. Tottenham was sure he was coming their way, Barcelona thought they had a great chance, and now Arsenal are the latest club that Arshavin has long dreamed of playing for.
It reminds me of a lonely high schooler desperately searching for a prom date. Every girl he asks will be the prettiest, his first choice.
Arsenal finally seem to have figured it out though. They won't meet Zenit's demands, and that, coupled with Arshavin's willingness to strike, may force the club to move him. The Gunners seem to have put in the most serious bids of all the clubs in the hunt and everybody involved expects the move to happen before January ends.
I won't believe it until the first time I actually see Arshavin in the Arsenal crest.
Source: Arshavin transfer timeline
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