Andrei Arshavin has described his transfer to Arsenal as
He must have more dreams than Gabrielle, Dr King and Joseph
put together, because just six months ago he was telling anyone who would
listen: "I have supported Barcelona all my life. Barcelona is my dream."
Thankfully for the Russian striker, he won't be facing Barca
or any other of the myriad clubs he and agent Dennis Lachter have declared his
allegiance to over the last six months, as he is ineligible for the rest of
this season's Champions League.
Arshavin will also likely avoid the North
London derby with Tottenham on Sunday, as he has not played a
proper match since November following the end of the Russian season, meaning he
is saved the embarrassment of facing another side he had been directing flirtatious
hair-flicks and smouldering glances towards.
The incidental Law & Order character has certainly made
the most of his UEFA Cup win and eye-catching form at Euro 2008.
His part in those successes earned respective coaches Dick
Advocaat and Gus Hiddink the Merited Coach of Russia award, the country's
highest sporting honour, which means they are now invited on bear-wrestling
trips with Vladimir Putin on a regular basis. Well, ED says invited, but of
course attendance is mandatory.
Even at the last, though, the Arsenal was almost scuppered
on several counts.
Arshavin headed back to the airport on deadline day,
seemingly unable to agree an amount to pay Zenit to terminate his contract,
despite him announcing his intention to leave months ago.
On top of that, the deal was not fully ratified until
Tuesday afternoon, almost 24 hours after the original transfer window deadline
Both clubs claim that everything was handed in on time, but
there are rumblings that there was a "slight issue" with some of the
paperwork and that Zenit failed to get some documents in on time.
Despite all of the hysteria surrounding the countdown to the
shutting of the transfer window, this isn't the first example of a deal being
completed after the deadline.
Not many will disagree that, after he prospect of seeing
Kaka in the Premier League evaporate, seeing another of the world's great
talents is a result for English football, even if he does look a bit like he
was created in Jim Henson's Workshop.
But it's hard to imagine that the powers that be would have
been so forgiving if Stoke had been thrashing out a deal for a teenage
left-back as the clock reached zero.
- - -
QUOTE OF THE DAY: "This club is in a position to
withstand a year without Champions League qualification" - Arsenal chief
executive Ivan Gazidis is full of optimism following the signing of Arshavin.
FOREIGN VIEW: You know that your standing in the game is pretty high when
you can just ask for an international cap and know you'll get one. But that's
exactly what Italy's
record cap-winner Paolo Maldini has done, saying it would be nice to earn one
more cap before he retires in the summer. Azzuri coach Marcello Lippi is so keen
on the idea that he has ruled out it happening in the upcoming friendly against
preferring instead to give the most glamorous of warhorses a run-out in one of
their World Cup qualifiers.
COMING UP: A bumper night of FA Cup action this evening,
with LIVE coverage of Liverpool v Everton, Aston Villa v Doncaster, Sunderland
v Blackburn and Derby v Nottingham Forest from around 19:30 UK time. There's
also scoring of the knockout action in Italy,
Spain and France in their
respective Coppas, Copas and Coupes tonight.