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Arshavin completes loan move to Zenit

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Andrei Arshavin has ended his nightmare of a season at Arsenal by making a loan move to Russian giants Zenit St. Petersburg on the last day of the Russian transfer window.

A statement on Arsenal's website read, “Andrei Arshavin has joined Russian Premier League champions Zenit St Petersburg on loan for the remainder of the 2011/12 English Premier League season. The Russia captain returns to his home city and former club, managed by Luciano Spalletti, in order to maximise his opportunities for regular first-team football ahead of Euro 2012 in June. Everyone at Arsenal wishes Andrei well during his spell with Zenit.”

Arshavin played for Zenit for 9 years before joining Arsenal in 2009 and made 308 appearances for them, scoring 75 goals and creating another 109. His career with the Gunners started well and he was widely appreciated in his debut season, with one of his best performances coming against Liverpool at Anfield, a match where he scored all 4 goals for the London based club in a 4-4 draw.

However, Arshavin failed to recreate the same kind of magic in his subsequent years with many hinting that the wide role afforded to him by Arsene Wenger was not to his liking. Arsenal’s relative success on the field, in terms of finishing in the top four, did manage to keep the critics off the player’s back for some time, but the Gunners’ plight this season has magnified Arshavin’s frailties. The 30-year old Russian was heavily criticised for his inability to help the team out defensively and was booed by the fans when he came on for Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain in the defeat against Manchester United earlier this year.

In his 3 years in England, Arshavin made 133 appearances for the Gunners and managed to find the back of the net 30 times apart from creating another 35 goals for his teammates. Despite his abject performances, the timing of his exit from Arsenal will not help the club. Arsene Wenger’s outfit seem to be struggling on all fronts and Arshavin’s departure will only exacerbate the problem as it will decrease the squad strength.

One can only hope now that Wenger doesn’t have to deal with any more injuries, so that he can cope with the squad at his disposal, before investing in the summer and bringing in a suitable replacement. Zenit are widely expected to sign Arshavin permanently in the summer transfer window and are rumoured to have made an upfront payment already as part of the loan agreement.