2009-02-06

Arshavin words after latest Arsenal transfer


As we know, for most soccer players now, the tag 'a dream move' is increasingly becoming a cliche; a statement made just to endear themselves with fans at their new clubs.

However, as far as Andrei Arshavin is concerned, his deadline-busting transfer from Zenit St Petersburg to Arsenal is indeed beyond his wildest dreams.

Indeed, so much so that the Russian star did everything he could to make sure the deal remained a possibility.

Case in point: at the time severe snow threatened to cripple the London transport system on transfer deadline day, he jetted into London first thing in the morning on a private plane and camped himself in a Hertfordshire hotel, just a stone's throw away from Arsenal's London Colney training ground.

And at the time the reported £15 million ($31.5m) deal was on the brink of collapse after an impasse over financial terms, Arshavin offered to take a pay-cut to ease through the deal.

What's more: he also reportedly agreed to pay 'compensation' to Zenit for leaving the Russian champions.

As you can tell, the talented 27-year-old really wanted to join Arsenal. Desperate even.

'Arsenal are one of the leading football clubs in the world, with a group of fantastic young players and a great manager,' declared Arshavin after his move was confirmed by the Premier League on Tuesday - almost 24 hours after the transfer deadline.

'I am looking forward to making the Arsenal supporters happy and helping this great club victory trophies.

'I am so happy to be an Arsenal player, it was my dream.'

One suspects that he really means it. Arsenal supporters will be heartened by Arshavin's show of determination, commitment and sincerity throughout this protracted transfer sage.

No fan likes it better at the time a soccer player appears to be devoting his life to the club.

All Arshavin needs to do is to replicate these qualities on the pitch, and he'll do alright.

Chances are he will. Gunners boss Arsene Wenger has made no secret of his admiration of the Russian playmaker.

The feeling is mutual, it seems.

Arshavin, one of the leading stars at Euro08, revealed the prospect of playing under Wenger played a big part in his decision to move to Arsenal.

'I moved because I like the Arsenal style, Arsene Wenger as a manager and I like some of their players,' Arshavin said.

'Every time I talked to Arsene, he said: 'I want you to come to Arsenal'. He had confidence in me.'

But it wasn't Arsenal who made the first move, though.

After his personal success at Euro08, Arshavin - who has 15 goals from 41 caps for Russia - was flooded with enquiries from major European clubs.

Barcelona came calling, but the Spanish champions' 15 million euros ($30m) bid was turned down by Zenit.

Arsenal's north London rivals Tottenham, too, made a bid worth £16m.

It was again rejected by Zenit, prompting Arshavin to blast his club for pricing him out of the market with an exorbitant £22m price-tag.

When Arsenal started their pursuit at the start of the year, their advances were thwarted at every turn by Zenit.

Barbaric

Incensed, Arshavin described Zenit as 'barbaric' and vowed never to play for them again.

Negotiations went back and forth over the course of January and finally, the drawn-out deal was done.

It was tough work, admitted Arshavin, but it was worth it.

'It was a very tough time for me, but now it doesn't matter because I am a Gunner. It is great,' said the 2006 Russian soccer player of the Year.

Arshavin will be cup-tied for the Champions League, but his goals and creative play will be needed to propel Arsenal beyond fourth place in the Premiership to secure automatic Champions League qualification next season.

Even though Arsenal's title bid is all but decimated and the League Cup exit still smarting, the new Arsenal No. 23 has his eyes set on silverware this season.

The FA Cup - with a replay against Cardiff coming up on 16 Feb - is very much a possibility.

The EPL title? Mission Impossible, isn't it?

But Arshavin is not about to give up, just like how he refused to give up fighting for his dream move.

'Trust in me and Arsenal,' he assured. If your deliver your promise, Arshavin, all will.

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