In what must be one of the most oddly timed pieces of transfer business in the club’s long history, Arsenal have this evening loaned Andrei Arshavin to Zenit St Petersburg until the end of the season.
It is believed the Russian club will pay Arshavin’s full wages (saving the club around £1m) whilst also paying a £1m loan fee.
Talking about the move on his official website, Arshavin in that inimitable way his stated:
“I’ve moved to “Zenit”. On loan, will play under number 29. All the details tomorrow, when you wake up. :)”
Considering the way Arsenal pick up injuries the way school kids pick up nits, loaning out an experienced, international player when we still have so much to play for is hard to understand.
He has struggled for form this season, and suggestions of a lack of application on the training ground are not wide of the mark. But some recent assists show that he is capable of providing something to an Arsenal team which is hardly overflowing with creativity.
Some might rightly point at the emergence of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, and this may well provide him with more chances, but letting the Russian go when we’re scrapping for a top four finish does seem strange, even if allowing him to leave probably tells us more about how the club have failed to manage his mercurial talent than anything else.
And quite what kind of message this is supposed to send on the eve of this most crucial of North London derbies is anybody’s guess.
The bottom line is that after going through a month during which time we were allowed buy players to strengthen the squad, we have now weakened it when there is no chance of adding anyone to the mix.