Arsenal prepared to sell Andrey Arshavin to fund new signings• Arsène Wenger feels Russian is surplus to requirements
• Club hope to recoup the £15m paid to Zenit St PetersburgDavid Hytner guardian.co.uk, Tuesday 17 May 2011 22.00 BST http://www.guardian.co.uk/football/2011/may/17/arsenal-andrey-arshavin-new-signings
Arsenal are prepared to sell Andrey Arshavin in the summer to fund the building of a new squad. Arsène Wenger has begun to cast the net for new signings and is understood to have indicated that Arshavin is surplus to requirements at the Emirates Stadium. The club would want to recoup the £15m that they paid to Zenit St Petersburg in January 2009 and could reason that now is the time to do so, as Arshavin has two years to run on his contract and there has been little desire on either side to open negotiations over fresh terms. The difficulty, though, would be to find a club willing to match his £85,000-a-week wage.
It may come as a surprise to realise that Arshavin is comfortably Arsenal's appearance leader this season, with 51 in all competitions of which 15 have come as a substitute. He has contributed 10 goals, and the Arsenal manager has expressed the view that the forward's "numbers" have been acceptable. Yet some of his performances have not met the standards expected of him and, for the first time in his Arsenal career, the Russia international has found himself on the outside looking in when Wenger names his strongest XI in the Premier League. Theo Walcott and Samir Nasri have established themselves ahead of Arshavin on the flanks, which has been the source of no little frustration and bemusement to him.
Arshavin has faced questions about his attitude, with a section of the Emirates crowd criticising him for a perceived lack of effort. His laid-back body language does not help in this regard but there has also been a feeling inside the dressing room that Wenger has indulged the player, who turns 30 on Sunday week, absolving him of the responsibility to track back. Arshavin has infuriated some of his team-mates in training with his lack of work ethic. Wenger has felt that Arshavin's mercurial genius can compensate for the negatives but his patience has worn thin. Arshavin, who is known for his self-confident and outspoken nature, did not help himself last season when, on more than one occasion, he went public over his "dream" of joining Barcelona; even Wenger had to tell him to quieten down.
It is unclear precisely how much money Wenger will have to spend this summer. Supporters, who have been asked to pay an extra 6.5% on their tickets for next season, hope it is a considerable amount though many of them wonder what became of the £39m that Wenger raised through the sales of Kolo Touré and Emmanuel Adebayor to Manchester City in 2009, which did not appear to be reinvested in the squad. Wenger, however, is aware of the need to wheel and deal and Arshavin has been identified as a saleable asset.
The manager, as usual, is channelling most of his efforts into the French and African markets and he is not expected to splash out on expensive, big-name additions. He has said that his priority is to keep his existing key players, chiefly the captain, Cesc Fàbregas, who is a perennial target for his former club Barcelona, and Nasri, who is yet to sign a new contract and is poised to enter the final 12 months of his deal. Gaël Clichy also has 12 months to run but Wenger is confident of Kieran Gibbs's ability to step up, if required.I think if we get half of what we paid we should let him go. High earner, capable of magic but his decent stats this season hide the number of errors and times he has been caught on the ball or run into dead ends.