It looks more and more likely with each passing day that Andrey Arshavin will pack up his boots and leave London during the summer, likely back to Russia with Zenit St Petersburg, where he’s still considered a hero. In fact, it seems all of Russia regards Arshavin as some kind of football genius since he was named that nation’s athlete of the year again for the fourth time running and is still the captain of his country’s team.
Zenit made some decent money when selling Arshavin to the Gunners three years ago as they managed to squeeze £15 million out of Arsene Wenger, which is a pretty tough task, and Arshavin became Arsenal’s most-expensive purchase in history. Well, he might still be a hero to Zenit, but they’re not stupid, it looks like they’re offering Wenger just £8 million to buy him back. Arshavin’s got a year left on his contract, but Wenger isn’t likely to ask for the 30-year-old Russian’s autograph on an extension.
However, Wenger needs Arshavin right now as the Gunners are pushing for a fourth-place finish and a Champions League berth next season. The injury room at Emirates Stadium resembles a M.A.S.H unit at the moment and it’s doubtful Wenger will let Arshavin leave until the season’s over. It’s a bit of a shame really since Arshavin appears to have all of the skill needed to succeed in England, but just looks to be lacking motivation. He’s scored just two goals in 25 matches so far this season and that’s simply not enough, especially when you consider he smashed four in at Anfield back in 2009, his first season with the team.
Arshavin usually shines when playing for Russia, but so far this year has been pretty uninspired in England. He’s still attracting attention though, as it’s been reported that Italian club Lazio are also interested in his services. Of course, Wenger is hoping Arshavin can quickly regain his form before it’s too late and they fall further down the table. And if he does start to pick up his game then his price could go up.
It’s also believed that the Russian’s Gunner teammates are miffed with his mediocre play. Last week’s loss in Swansea was a prime example when Arshavin didn’t offer much help at all to 19-year-old Ignasi Miquel who was filling in at left back due to injuries. Miquel had a hard time trying to control Swansea winger Nathan Dyer and Arshavin was no help to the fullback at all. Wenger finally pulled him off the pitch after an hour of lacklustre football. Rumours have also been circulating about Arshavin’s lack of commitment at training.
To his credit, Arshavin hasn’t tried to hide the fact he’s been playing poorly and said back in November that he’s been playing average football with Arsenal. Wenger said he needs to play with freedom and confidence to be successful since he’s such a creative player. But if Theo Walcott doesn’t sign a new deal and if Robin Van Persie decides to take off, then Wenger might have to think twice about selling the Russian unless he can find a better player to replace him, which could be a little more difficult if the club isn’t involved in the Champions League next season.