Zenit St. Petersburg Steps Up Chase for Nani and Andrei Arshavin

Nick Akerman@NakermanFeatured ColumnistSeptember 6, 2012

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - AUGUST 28:  Nani of Manchester United celebrates after scoring his side's fifth goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester United and Arsenal at Old Trafford on August 28, 2011 in Manchester, England.  (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
Alex Livesey/Getty Images

Zenit St. Petersburg are reportedly stepping up their bid to lure Nani toward Russia.

After spending over £70 million on Porto striker Hulk and Benfica midfielder Axel Witsel, the Russian champions are reportedly lining up a deal for the Portuguese winger.

According to The Daily Mail, Arsenal midfielder Andrei Arshavin could also be on his way to the Petrovsky Stadium.

Nani's future has been under constant speculation after his poor start to the Premier League season. An abysmal opening-day display against Everton saw the player dropped for Manchester United's game against Fulham.

His next appearance came in the final half an hour against Southampton. Although he contributed to the club's startling 3-2 comeback at St Mary's, a sense of growing frustration has surrounded Nani's displays for a couple of years now.

In June, the player himself admitted to being worried over his Old Trafford future (via The Daily Mail).

Zenit have been linked with the Portuguese international across the past couple of weeks and will be looking to complete the deal before the Russian transfer window closes.

Andrei Arshavin's name is also doing the rounds. Zenit were rumoured to be interested in him earlier in the transfer window (via ESPN), but speculation has intensified now that business is nearly over.

Like Nani, Arshavin has suffered indifferent form at his club. The Russian spent the latter part of last season on loan at Zenit, making five appearances and scoring one goal.

Before joining Arsenal after a superb showing at Euro 2008, he also spent over 10 years at the Russian club. If Arshavin was to move, it certainly would be a return home for the local hero.

Zenit will have to work quickly if they are going to land either player.

The club's signings and potential targets continue to impress as Luciano Spalletti's side make an assault on the Champions League this season.

The head coach has already suggested his team are more than capable of progressing from Group C, downplaying AC Milan as favourites (via ESPN).

If Nani and Arshavin joined, would this make Zenit one of the favourites for Europe's top prize? Would their form improve at a different club? Let me know below.