Thursday, January 15, 2009

Arsenal could smash transfer record for Arshavin

Arsenal could be forced to smash their transfer record or be priced out of a move for Andrei Arshavin, as Zenit St Petersburg continue to demand a big-money fee for the wantaway Russian playmaker.

The Gunners have already seen one offer of £10m knocked back, but are understood to be ready to return with an improved deal.

However, that is not likely to be anywhere near the £20m figure touted by the Russians, even including any add-on clauses.

Given both cash-rich Manchester City and Jose Mourinho's Inter Milan are also reported to be chasing the signature of the 27-year-old, it seems the Emirates Stadium club could have no option but to stretch themselves to be sure of landing Arsene Wenger's number one target.

While the traditionally prudent Gunners have money to spend, the club, and indeed their manager, remain determined not to be held to ransom and have a current transfer record of £13m paid to Bordeaux for Sylvain Wiltord in 2000.

Nevertheless, Arsenal would seem to be the preferred destination of the creative, attack-minded midfielder who shot to prominence at Euro 2008 - and would slot right into a side missing injured captain Cesc Fabregas for the next three months.

Zenit manager Dick Advocaat, the former Rangers boss, seems resigned to losing Arshavin, who will not go on a pre-season tour to the United Arab Emirates as his future is finally resolved one way or another.

Arshavin's agent, Dennis Lachter, said in the London Evening Standard: "It looks like nothing will happen this week now, but there may be some movement early next week."

The Gunners have lacked a consistent link-man between midfield and attack since the retirement of Dutch legend Dennis Bergkamp at the end of the 2005/2006 campaign.

The 39-year-old is currently working on his coaching badges at former club Ajax, and revealed he would one day love a return to Arsenal.

"I wouldn't rule it out [working at Arsenal in some capacity]. I really love this club and the country and I love working here," Bergkamp said in an interview to be broadcast on Arsenal TV's 'Bob Wilson Meets...' show this evening.

"I would advise everyone to work in England, as a player or a coach, it just breathes football. It is fantastic for the game."

Bergkamp believes the state of English football has changed for the better since his arrival from Inter back in 1996.

"I think when I first came it was a case that [there was a lack of technical ability]. Then a lot of foreign players came in and probably improved the game," said Bergkamp, who went on to score 120 goals in 423 games for the Gunners.

"Now I feel that there are foreign players who are coming in who aren't improving the game because you've got English players who are technically better.

"It has changed. If you only look at Arsenal for example, you have 16-year-olds with fantastic technique who came through the system so you must be doing something right."

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