Wenger still hopeful of Arshavin deal

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The Independent Online

Arsene Wenger insists no deal has yet been agreed to bring Russian international Andrei Arshavin to Arsenal - but remains hopeful of a successful conclusion to the protracted saga before the transfer window closes.

Zenit St Petersburg have made it clear they are willing to sell the wantaway 27-year-old playmaker, at the right price.

However, the Gunners remain resolute in their offer of £12m plus add-ons and, as yet, no further improved bid has been tabled amid reports of Arshavin being ready to slash his wage demands in order to push the move through.

Asked if Arsenal had agreed a fee with Zenit, Wenger declared: "No, and we have not applied for a work permit yet for Arshavin or anybody else.

"Whether we are close or not has little meaning - it does not matter how close you are, what is important is that you agree. At the moment, we have no agreement with anybody for any transfer.

"We are always confident, we try our best and respect our budget. "If we can find an agreement, we will do it, if we cannot we will not overspend what we have planned to do."

Wenger, though, indicated there could yet be movement ahead of the midnight deadline on Monday.

The Arsenal manager added: "These kind of stories sometimes develop in the last minute on the final day of the transfer window. It is very difficult to predict.

"I can only give you the way we think on our side. I cannot give you what other people think."

Wenger is not a fan of the transfer window, noting at today's press conference ahead of the visit of in-form West Ham how once again the agenda was dominated by off-field matters.

He said: "I do not like it. Every press conference is a bore about players who might come in than about the players who play and do something for the club.

"Others get too much importance at a part of the season where it is more important that you rely on people who fight for you than for those who might come in - that cannot be a great help for the club at the moment."

Despite the continuing distraction of the transfer window, Arsenal have picked up form, extending their unbeaten league run to nine matches following a dramatic stoppage-time equaliser at Everton.

However, their failure to win in midweek has seen the gap behind fourth-placed Aston Villa grow to five points and Arsenal are eight adrift of leaders Manchester United.

While talk may be the Gunners are vulnerable for a first failure to qualify for the Champions League in a decade, a defiant Wenger maintains there is still plenty of reasons to stay positive heading into the final 15 matches.

"We had a difficult game on Wednesday night, but we are on a good run and I am not concerned," Wenger declared.

"Finishing outside the top four does not worry me at the moment, because we have a very good opportunity to be in there.

"If I ask you what does it mean if your house will burn down, you will tell me 'why should my house burn down?'. That is exactly the same for me.

"This team has overcome a lot of criticism and have a strong character.

"I am very positive and believe very strongly in my squad - why should we consider all of the negative aspects of the season?

"I never worry, I try to give my best and put my players in a condition where they believe in their strengths."

Arsenal have fought off challenges to their place among the so-called "big four" in previous campaigns - most notably 2005/2006 when Tottenham's bid fell apart on the final day of the season following defeat at West Ham.

Wenger maintains this time is no different.

He said: "We have a very young team who are doing well, but why should we always face a catastrophe?

"We have all the positive reasons to believe in our future.

"If at the last day of the season, we are not in there, then I will take all of your questions, and [accept] all of my responsibilities."

Wenger added: "I do not want to prove everybody wrong, I want to prove that I am right to believe in my players and in my squad, that is all."

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