Arsenal have plenty of players that appear to surplus to requirements at The Emirates Stadium. The likes of Maraoune Chamakh, Johan Djourou and Sebastian Squillaci included are the tip of the iceberg. Then there is the effervescent playmaker Andrei Arshavin.
The Russian arrived with great promise after startling European displays for Zenit Saint Petersburg and at Euro 2008 for Russia. At first he looked an exquisite buy and he infamously scored four in one fixture against Liverpool in one of the greatest individual performances in recent Premier League history.
Other than that night at Anfield his time in England has been mixed in terms of success and recently he has bared the brunt of much criticism from Arsenal fans. His languid and often lazy expression cannot help his likeability factor. He also hasn’t been helped by being played out of position at Arsenal; switched to wide-left in order to accommodate Wenger’s 4-3-3 vision.
Arshavin in a midfield playmaker; when he sits behind the frontman with the freedom to roam free and limited defensive duties he can still be a devastating player.
So what is the perfect loan-deal for Arshavin come January?
It is a team already being mentioned as holding a vested interest in the Russian and that team is the Premier League’s basement club Reading.
Currently struggling with the step-up in class to top-flight football last season’s Championship winners are in desperate need of a little creative flair further up the pitch.
Arshavin has warmed to the UK and in particular the London area and is reported to have plans of staying in the country paramount in his interest; otherwise he would likely be back playing in Russia or for Galatasaray in Turkey. Given Reading’s close proximity to the capital it would not be a heady commute for the 31-year-old.
On top of that he is friendly with Reading striker Pavel Pogrebnyak with whom he played for the Russian national team and Zenit Saint Petersburg. The 32-year-old could also expect to play in his favoured position at Reading; sitting behind Jason Roberts, Adam Le Fondre or Pogrebnyak himself.
Signing him on loan until the end of the season could give Reading a boost in their hunt for Premier League survival as Arshavin is reportedly in the best physical shape since his move to England and is just ready to get some game-time to prove his worth.
With a Russian owner in Anton Zingarevich the club may also have another key bartering piece. His contract expires at the end of the season and all things going well, with a little pay-cut likely to be thrown in for good measure, he could certainly end his playing days at the Madejski Stadium.
Do you think it is the perfect deal for Andrei Arshavin, Arsenal and Reading?
image: © Ronnie Macdonald