What an up and down day yesterday turned out to be. Claims, rebuttals, rumours and lies, it had everything, except a clear resolution, which was delayed until today.
It started out fairly promisingly, with confirmation that Arshavin was in the country, but before long, rumours circulated that he was on his way home after negotiations has broken down. But all sides pressed on, and as the deadline approached it seemed once again that the Russian’s transfer would be confirmed.
5pm came and went, with no news, before conflicting reports emanated from Zenit. The deal was off, the deal was on, before word eventually got out that the move would be confirmed once the staff at the Premier League had returned to work today and ratified the deal. Zenit have today confirmed it, although there is still no word from Arsenal.
It has been the longest game of chicken I can remember, and it is one we appear to have won. It was a huge risk, because had Zenit refused to buckle or another club come in with a higher offer, we would’ve lost our target and Wenger and the board would be answering serious questions today. But as it is, they knew they held the cards, with Zenit really needing to sell.
Zenit have proven themselves to be horrendous to do business with throughout. As Spurs found in the summer, they kept finding ways of scuppering the deal, while talking freely to anyone who would listen about the availability of their player, trying desperately to create an auction that wasn’t forthcoming. The two sides finally agreed a transfer fee, only for the Russians to demand more in clauses, related to Arshavin’s loyalty bonus he received on signing his last contract.
Now, had they had any sense, the loyalty bonus would’ve been paid out on a yearly basis, but it seems Arshavin received around £3.5m up front instead. At one point, Zenit were asking Arsenal to pay a large chunk of that to them as compensation.
Now imagine you are in Arsenal’s shoes as the deadline creeps closer. You’ve managed to shave a million or two off the transfer fee, and then Zenit throw in this extra demand, requiring you to effectively up your offer again. It is unthinkable to cave in to their demands, and it seems we haven’t. A deal seems to have been struck where they receive a much lower portion of the loyalty bonus back, and it isn’t clear yet who is paying it.
From doing a little digging around myself, it seems that the transfer fee in itself is actually only around £11m, a remarkable climb down from Zenit’s original asking price. It may rise to around £13.5-£14m depending on additional clauses, but it seems that patience has truly paid off this time.
Zenit themselves are probably going to claim the fee is £15m, which they will be exaggerating even if it does include all the clauses. I expect Arsenal to remain silent on the details, as ever, except to confirm the usual ‘long term’ contract.
Finally, the transfer window is shut, and we can concentrate on football again. Or at least we would be able to had the FA Cup replay not been scheduled for tonight. It has been rearranged for the 16th, and means we have a full week to prepare for the trip to Spurs. Those expecting our new signing to have an immediate impact will be disappointed – he will take a couple of weeks to prepare as the Russian season has been over for some time.
It’ll be so good to put this ridiculous saga behind us.