Lending out Andrei Arshavin to his former club Zenit St. Petersburg of Russia while you’re fighting for fourth place and a Champions League spot next season is nothing short of a salary dump. The Russian team is reportedly going to take over Arshavin’s paycheques until the end of the season and will hand over a cool million pounds to Arsenal for the use of the player. This could also be termed as a down payment for him if Zenit ends up buying him outright at the end of the season.
Arshavin is believed to make about 80,000 pounds a week, meaning the Gunners will save themselves around a million pounds in salary. But the problem with this team is that money always seems to be the number one priority, which makes this move quite hard to understand. There’s a good chance they’re going to save a couple of million, but end up losing about 50 million if they don’t make it to the Champions League next season. So with the highest paid manager in Europe and the highest ticket prices, Arsenal decides they’ll save a couple of million by taking the Zenit offer while it’s on the table.
The loan deal was literally finalized at the last minute and with the English transfer window closing at the end of January there’s no way to replace Arshavin other than with another squad member. But the squad’s already as thin as rice paper and has been decimated by injuries this season. Letting Arshavin leave now isn’t going to help Arsenal achieve its goal and with Ryo Miyaichi out on loan to Bolton, proving just how good he is it’s a bit mind boggling. It’s a curious way to run a football club when good players are loaned out and you bitch about not having a strong enough squad.
There’s no doubt that Arshavin was struggling this year compared with his previous seasons, but he’s still a world class player who can help when needed. What happens now if more players suffer serious injuries from now until the end of the season? The last time Arshavin touched the ball in an Arsenal uniform he set up Thierry Henry for the last-minute game-winner in a dramatic 2-1 win over Sunderland.
As far as I can remember, he never saw the pitch again, even though the Gunners were humiliated 4-0 by AC Milan and 2-0 by Sunderland in their next two games, effectively knocking them out of both this season’s Champions League and FA Cup. It is possible that Zenit insisted on taking Arshavin now if there’s a deal in place to buy him in the summer. If not, then it’s nothing short of ridiculous on Arsenal’s part to weaken their squad while in a race for fourth spot.
Aaron Ramsey recently injured himself and Theo Walcott is playing below par, which makes Arshavin a valuable piece of the puzzle. Manager Arsene Wenger kept saying the Russian wasn’t going anywhere, so you know how much he can be trusted when it comes to the status of players on his squad. In fact, didn’t he say the same thing about Cesc Fabregas and is now talking the same way about Robin Van Persie.
I don’t have a problem if Arsenal wants to unload Arshavin at the end of the season. That’s their prerogative, but to weaken the squad intentionally while you’re in a dogfight with Chelsea is a mistake, especially when the player can’t be replaced by somebody who’s as good. In addition, it now cuts down on competition between players. With Arshavin gone, other squad members will realize they’re going to be playing mo matter what.
The 30-year-old Russian wasn’t a complete flop in England, scoring 30 goals in 133 matches for Arsenal and setting up another 35. There’s no doubt that he’ll be heading to Poland and Ukraine when his loan spell is over to play for Russia in Euro 2012. Wherever he ends up after that is anyone’s guess. But I wish him luck. Love him or hate him he did provide football fans with some great memories, especially his four goal outburst at Anfield and his game winner against Barcelona last season in the Champions League.