Arsenal Midfielder Andrei Arshavin on Zenit St. Petersburg’s Radar

Arsenal FC’s out-of-favour attacking midfielder Andrei Arshavin is on the radar of his former club Zenit St. Petersburg, the Russian club’s officials have confirmed.

Coach Arsene Wenger signed Arshavin from his hometown club in January 2009 for an undisclosed fee believed to be in the region of £15 million. While he was pretty decent in the first two years of his Arsenal career, his form has declined quite sharply in the 2011/12 Barclays Premier League season.

The diminutive playmaker has been booed by the Gunners fans on multiple occasions this season and when that happens at Emirates Stadium, it usually means curtains for that player a la Emmanuel Adebayor and Emmanuel Eboue. He is not a part of Arsenal’s first-choice starting line-up anymore, which is why Zenit want to take him back to Russia.

The move, if successful, could be beneficial for all the parties involved as Arsenal fans would get rid of a player they don’t really trust anymore, while Arshavin would get the chance to regain his lost confidence ahead of this summer’s UEFA European Football Championship.

A few hours ago, Zenit’s general director Maxim Mitrofanov told the Russian press: “Arshavin would interest us in terms of having him on loan. [Besides helping Zenit in the league] Andrey would also be well prepared for the upcoming Euro 2012 finals. The question is what Arsenal really want – would they want a loan deal?”

The English transfer window is closed at the moment, but Arsenal can still ship Arshavin back to where he came from, as Russian clubs can still sign foreign players until February 24.

When asked by reporters if they are currently in negotiations with their English counterparts with a view to re-signing Arshavin, Mitrofanov replied, “We had [initial] talks with them. Let’s see how they respond now. The fact is Andrey still wants to play in England but he really wants to do well at Euro 2012 [and Zenit] would be a good solution for him in this case.”

Arshavin has played 27 times for Arsenal this season but his production level isn’t at the same level as it used to be in his previous three years at the club. He has found the back of the net only twice, while his assists count stands at just three.

While the Russian captain could be gone in the next few days, one player who looks likely to make his first-team return for Arsenal is their young right-back Carl Jenkinson. The Gunners are scheduled to face Tottenham Hotspur in this weekend’s all-important North London derby and considering their arch-rivals’ rich vein of attacking form, Wenger would be keen to have as many defensive options available as possible.

Jenkinson was diagnosed with a stress fracture in his back in early November and he has been sidelined ever since. But he came out unscathed from the first half of Arsenal Reserves’ defeat of Norwich Reserves yesterday and could be in line for his league comeback this weekend.

The former Charlton Athletic defender is unlikely to make the starting eleven against Spurs but Wenger has such a defensive crisis at his hands that any kind of help at the back will be welcomed.

Per Mertesacker is out for multiple months due to a serious ankle injury, while Laurent Koscielny is not certain to be fit in time for Sunday’s derby. And as if that wasn’t enough, Sebastien Squillaci and Francis Coquelin also picked up knocks in last weekend’s FA Cup defeat against Sunderland and their names have also been added to the absentees list.

As things currently stand, Thomas Vermaelen and Johan Djourou are the only two fit central defensive options that Wenger has for the upcoming Spurs clash.

On a side note, striker Marouane Chamakh’s toe injury that troubled him in the recent African Nations Cup is expected to completely heal before the weekend. But the lanky Moroccan’s comeback will hardly cheer up any Arsenal fan as he is not considered a major player anymore.

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