Wenger upbeat over Arshavin chase

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The Independent Football

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger remains hopeful of landing Russian playmaker Andrei Arshavin before the transfer window shuts.

The Gunners have already seen one offer of £10m knocked back for the 27-year-old by Zenit St Petersburg, although they are understood to have returned with an improved deal.

However, that is unlikely to be anywhere close to double that figure, which the Russian club are holding out for.

With Inter Milan and Jose Mourinho, the former Chelsea manager, also said to be in the race for Arshavin, who shot to prominence at Euro 2008, Arsenal - whose record transfer fee is the £13m paid for Sylvain Wiltord in 2000 - could find themselves priced out of the market.

Wenger, though, remains pragmatic about the whole situation.

"We are not close to signing anybody, but there again, we are in negotiations, yes - but we want to respect our principles," said the Arsenal manager, who will be without injured captain Cesc Fabregas until April.

"I am very hopeful. There is time left in the transfer window because we have only crossed halfway.

"But if it does not happen, it does not happen. There again, we want to continue to improve and focus and what we can continue to improve here with the players we have.

"I believe we have a strong team and we want to do the maximum with the team we have."

Wenger added: "Do not forget that we have (Tomas) Rosicky, Fabregas, (Theo) Walcott, who are all creative and offensive players, they will come back at some stage. That is like being on a transfer market for us.

"Eduardo has also recovered very well and his coming back will be like a new signing as well. He will be back in two to three weeks."

Croatian forward Eduardo has been out of action since he suffered a broken leg at Birmingham last year, but recently returned to action for the reserves and should feature against Stoke's second string next week.

Should all go well, Wenger's indications are the Brazil-born former Dinamo Zagreb striker could be back in contention for the visit of West Ham on 31 January.

And Eduardo maintains getting fully match-fit rather than finding the net is his top priority.

"Every professional footballer knows how the media works so I am not worried about what they might say," Eduardo told the official Arsenal magazine.

"If you score a goal, you're on top; if you don't, you're at the bottom.

"Even the very best strikers in the world might score two goals in a game and then not score for another three or four games, and that's how it works.

"But my only concerns are my fitness and how I'm going to help Arsenal. And if I happen to score a goal, it will be just as it always was."

Arsenal could have midfielder Alex Song available for Saturday's early evening Barclays Premier League game at Hull following the thigh problem that has kept him out since Boxing Day.

However, defenders William Gallas (hamstring) and Mikael Silvestre (thigh) remain sidelined.

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