- Arsenal’s board held a hardline stance on the transfer fee for Andrei Arshavin, despite Arsene Wenger’s push for the player.
- Zenit’s director general, Maxim Mitrofanov, was unyielding in his demand for a £15m fee, leading to a standoff in negotiations.
- Agent Jon Smith offered to pay an additional £1.2m to secure the deal, a gamble that ultimately succeeded as Arsenal agreed to the increased fee.
In the world of football, the transfer of a player can often become a high-stakes game, and such was the case with Andrei Arshavin’s move to Arsenal in 2009. Unfolding like a scene straight from a movie, the deal was hanging by a thread until the final moments of the transfer deadline day.
Football agent Jon Smith narrates this thrilling encounter in his book, “The Deal”. At the centre of it all was Andrei Arshavin, the Russian player whom Arsene Wenger was keen on bringing to Arsenal. Wenger’s desire to secure Arshavin was in stark contrast to the Arsenal board’s hardline stance on the transfer fee.
Throughout the transfer window, Arsenal had offered up to £13.8m, a far cry from the £15m demanded by Zenit St. Petersburg, Arshavin’s club at the time. Zenit’s director general, Maxim Mitrofanov, was resolute in his demand, putting the deal at risk.
As the clock ticked down, with Arshavin already in London for his medical, the stalemate persisted. Smith, in a desperate attempt to break the deadlock, took the audacious decision of offering to pay the additional £1.2m himself. A move that, despite its brazenness, was met with initial resistance from Arsenal CEO Ivan Gazidis.
Smith recalls, “On the contract, it said all the money would come from the Gunners. On seeing this, Gazidis immediately rang me up, with only five minutes until the deadline. The CEO wasn’t happy, but there was nothing they could do to negotiate any further at that stage.”
In the end, Smith’s gamble paid off.
The Gunners agreed to the extra £1.2m, and Arshavin’s transfer was finalised just in time.
Arshavin at Arsenal
Arshavin made an immediate impact with his impressive technical skills, a wicked turn of pace, and a flair for the dramatic. His creativity and ability to score crucial goals quickly endeared him to the Arsenal faithful.
Perhaps his most unforgettable contribution came in an extraordinary 4-4 draw against Liverpool at Anfield in April 2009, where he scored all four of Arsenal’s goals, demonstrating his immense ability to change a game single-handedly.
However, Arshavin’s tenure at Arsenal wasn’t without its challenges.
Consistency was an issue throughout his time with the Gunners, with occasional flashes of brilliance offset by periods of diminished form. Critics also pointed towards his defensive contributions, which often left a lot to be desired.
Despite the ups and downs, the Russian forward had a notable stint at Arsenal, marked by moments of genius that the Emirates Stadium spectators still reminisce about. Arshavin spent four years at the club, during which he played in 144 games, scoring 31 goals and delivering 46 assists.
He left the club in the summer of 2013 to return to his former club Zenit, but his name still echoes in the corridors of the Emirates, particularly when talk turns to that scintillating four-goal performance at Anfield.
Andrei Arshavin, in his unique way, certainly left a mark on Arsenal Football Club.