Arsene Wenger declared the on-going Andrei Arshavin transfer saga was "of little interest" as he focuses on getting the best out of his current Arsenal squad ahead of the Barclays Premier League trip to Everton tomorrow.
While Wenger remains keen on signing the Russia international, suggestions from Zenit St Petersburg that a deal is imminent were today rebuffed by the Gunners boss.
The Russians, whose domestic campaign is now completed, appear to have softened their stance over the original £20m fee demanded for the 27-year-old playmaker.
However, Arsenal remain resolute in their offer of £12m plus add-ons and, as yet, no further improved bid has been tabled - despite what Zenit may claim, as a club statement last night suggested personal terms with the player were now the only obstacle to overcome.
Wenger, though, insists all the talk and speculation is irrelevant as he looks to keep his side's momentum running after eight unbeaten Premier League games and climb back into the top four - and the title race.
"It is not true a fee has been agreed. We are not close to concluding any transfer; Arshavin or anybody else. At the moment it is all quiet," Wenger said.
"For me, it is of little interest. I can understand that when the transfer window is open, it makes headlines.
"I like quality football, and for me that is more important than having one more player here."
Wenger added: "Time is getting short and at the moment I am more focused to win the game tomorrow.
"We know we are in front of a big game and the most important thing is to focus on that.
"For me, it is not a distraction because what is important is the team continues to focus on the championship, the FA Cup and the Champions League."
Nevertheless, Arsenal remain hopeful a deal can be concluded before the transfer window closes in six days' time.
"I am only responsible for the statements we make, but I cannot be responsible for the statements that other clubs make," said Wenger.
"Zenit look to have different voices coming out of the club and I am not sure if it always the official voice. I believe what I see and what I hear directly."
Arsenal have also been linked with a move for Manchester City's England defender Micah Richards.
However, Wenger today maintained: "I like the player, but I have not gone for him, no."
The Gunners boss believes such continued speculation has taken the attention away somewhat from his team's improvement in recent weeks.
Arsenal head to Goodison Park three points behind fourth-placed Aston Villa, yet only two wins away from overtaking leaders Manchester United, who do still hold a game in hand.
"I feel it has overshadowed things, yes, but let's be quiet, focused and continue on," said Wenger, whose side must face Cardiff again in a fourth-round replay next week at Emirates Stadium following Sunday's goalless draw in Wales.
"We are in a strong position in the Premier League, the Champions League and the FA Cup - so let's take advantage of that and let people talk.
"Our job is to focus on what we want to achieve.
"We got fair criticism this year, but we have overcome that and we are now hungrier than ever.
"It is a good opportunity to show that tomorrow."Reuse content