Andrey Arshavin ready to quit football when contract expires at Arsenal
Russian is out of contract at the end of the season
Andrey Arshavin has grown so disillusioned during his final season at Arsenal that he is ready to quit football altogether when his contract expires this summer.
The 32-year-old has two-months to run on his current deal which he signed after joining the Gunners from Zenit St Petersburg for a club record £15m in February 2009.
It is understood that Arshavin, who was hugely popular among fans after his initial move to the Emirates, will not be offered a new deal.
And now it has been revealed the Russia international has grown so disillusioned with both the absence of viable alternatives and the game itself that he is contemplating walking away altogether according to The Evening Standard.
It is believed that Arshavin split from his wife Julia around the time she gave birth to their third child — a boy — last year. He is still thought to be in regular contact for the sake of their family but is now dating an Englishwoman and spending most of his time in Hampstead.
Arshavin is keen to remain in London but appears to have lost his appetite for football after finding himself frozen out at Emirates Stadium.
It is understood that no clubs have enquired about his services despite Arshavin being able to talk to other teams from January — reports last week of interest from Los Angeles Galaxy were inaccurate — and consequently he faces a decidedly uncertain future.
His availability has been widely circulated by Arsenal during the last four transfer windows but the lack of interest is thought to centre partly on his high wages, which equate to around £95,000 a week.
At the end of the 2010-11 season, Arshavin held talks with manager Arsene Wenger, who indicated that he would not be considered a first-team regular but was welcome to stay and fight for his place. He took up the invitation but found first-team appearances hard to come by.
It became clear Arshavin would need to leave the club to secure regular action to ensure his match fitness ahead of Euro 2012.
Zenit were reluctant to buy Arshavin but eventually agreed a six-month loan for a £1m fee that temporarily satisfied all parties. However, he returned to Arsenal last summer and despite Wenger deeming him surplus to requirements, Arshavin once again opted to stay.
But he has started only two matches this season — both in the Capital One Cup against Coventry and Reading — prompting Arsenal’s attempts to once again move him on in January to help reduce a wage bill that was sent spiralling by several new contracts handed to players including Jack Wilshere and Theo Walcott.
Arshavin was available for as little as £1m by this stage but only Reading made a concrete offer and the player declined the move to the Madejski Stadium, privately declaring he was unwilling to play for a club at the bottom end of the Premier League.
Sources close to Arshavin suggest he may continue with another club next season should a suitable offer arise but that at present interest in taking the player “couldn’t be colder”.
Arshavin is, therefore, giving serious thought to hanging up his boots rather than playing for a smaller club in England, and with Zenit unwilling to re-sign him for a third time, he remains hopeful of an offer from another London club.
There will be some Arsenal supporters cynically greeting the news Arshavin is pondering retirement with the response that they thought he already had. His present malaise is a spectacular fall from grace for a player who burst into English football during his first six months. Arshavin’s most memorable contribution came against Liverpool in April 2009 when he scored all four goals in a dramatic 4-4 draw at Anfield.
Building on an impressive series of performances at Euro 2008, Arshavin appeared ready to take the Premier League by storm but his effectiveness gradually eroded.
Sources close to the Arsenal squad argue he was played out of position by Wenger too often, frequently starting on the left flank and asked to track back in a manner to which he was unaccustomed.
Arshavin also spent a brief spell playing as a centre-forward during an injury crisis at the club and there was a sense he was never truly comfortable in Wenger’s system.
His critics complained about a lack of fitness and work rate and he has occasionally become a scapegoat for the team’s underperformance — Arshavin’s introduction as a substitute and then failure to prevent Manchester United’s winning goal in a 2-1 home defeat in January last year earned him the wrath of the Emirates faithful and stands out as one of the lowest points of his career.
Effective displays for Russia at Euro 2012 proved flashes of quality remain and surely there will be a club ready to take a chance on him but for now, at least, Arshavin appears ready to walk away from it all.
Arshavin in numbers
£15M - paid to Zenit for Arshavin so late on transfer deadline day that the deal was not confirmed until the following day
145 - games for the north London club, 48 of which were from the substitutes’ bench
31 - goals in four years, an average of 4.7 games per goal
577 - days since his last League goal for the club . . . against Swansea
55 - of his 97 starts ended with him being taken off by Arsene Wenger
75 - caps for Russia with 17 goals at an average of one every 4.4 games
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