Explaining my agony on Twitter over a Russian football player.
I consider myself a peculiar sports fan, because I love both football… and football. And I have a favorite club and that is Arsenal of the EPL. Right now, they are near the conclusion of one of the most drama filled transfers ever with Russian playmaker Andrei Arshavin.
Arshavin plays for Zenit St.Petersburg, which won the UEFA Cup last season. He became internationally known during Euro 2008, when he led Russia into the quarter-finals. I noticed him when he dismantled what seemed to be a pretty well oiled Dutch side (it helped that the Russian manager at the time was Guus Hiddink). Even since then, he’s been linked to a move to a major club. First it was Real Madrid. Then Tottenham. Then was both Manchester City and Arsenal. Now he’s coming to Arsenal… maybe. Maybe not. I don’t know.
Arsenal in the Arsene Wenger era is well known for snapping players for cheap and turning them into superstars (who then leave the club for a huge return for Arsenal). This has worked pretty well for Arsenal, regularly finishing in the top four and going deep in the Champions League. Until this year.
This season, they got nailed by the injury bug. The heart of the midfield, Fabregas, Walcott, and Rosicky, all injured until March. Wenger had to make do with young players clearly not ready for the starting lineup of a Premier League match (*cough cough Denilson! cough*). So what used to be a high powered and free flowing offense is now stalled. How bad? They are fighting with Aston Villa for fourth place. Arsenal could also use a defender and a defensive midfielder too but the lack of goals is the most pressing concern.
Arshavin, therefore, all the sudden became our great albino hope. The first issue was the fee Arsenal had to pay Zenit for the right to offer Arshavin the contract. Thanks to his stardom and his links to high profile club (or in Man City’s case, a mid-tier club with more money than smarts), Zenit wanted a lot of money for him. Arsenal, despite status of a top-tier club, is quite adamant to not overpay for anyone. The last figure thrown around was £15 million, a club record. The second issue is the various fees paid to Zenit and Arshavin’s agent in order to release Arshavin from his contract with Zenit. It’s complicated but essentially Zenit wanted the fees and Arsenal thinks these are extra costs.
This deal is so drawn out that, despite the signing period has already officially closed, the Football Association has extended the deadline for certain deals because of a ton of snow falling in Britain. A sign that the Russian winter arrived in England?
Tuesday will determine whether our pale skinned savior is a Gunner or the season turn to shit.
Update: Ourshavin indeed. Only £12 million too.