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Zenit St. Petersburg forward Andrei Arshavin wants his club to lower
Zenit St. Petersburg forward Andrei Arshavin wants his club to lower his 30-million-euro price tag so he can fulfill a childhood dream to play for Spanish giants Barcelona, the Sporting Life website said on Thursday.

Barcelona bid 15 million euros ($23.4 million) for Arshavin, one of the stars of Euro 2008, earlier this month. However, the offer for the 27-year-old was turned down by Zenit, who are financed by the Russian energy giant Gazprom, as being "too low."

"I really hope that they call and can sign me, but Zenit are asking for so much money," Arshavin told Sporting Life. "I know nothing more than that Barca offered 15 million euros, and Zenit said they wanted 30 million - which seems a lot."

Barcelona have recently completed the signing of Belarusian midfielder Alexander Hleb for a reported 15 million euros from Arsenal, and Arshavin commented that, ""As they have signed Hleb, I don't know if they will want me too. We play in different positions, I know that, but does Barca have more money to spend on me?"

Arshavin denied that he had recently travelled to England for talks with Premier League clubs Arsenal and Chelsea.

"I was not in London negotiating anything. My club let me have a holiday after the European Championships, but I did not go to London," he said.

Arshavin has supported Barcelona since he was a child, and earlier said that he would only ever leave Zenit for the Spanish club. The issue, he maintains, is not about money, but "sporting desire."

"Money? I doubt that many other clubs would be able to pay me what Zenit can. It is not an economic question, it is about sporting desire. I want to play in one of the big leagues," he said.

"My dream is Barca, but saying that is nothing new. Everyone knows that my dream has always been to play there," he added.

Arshavin scored two goals in three games at Euro 2008, and was named in UEFA's symbolic squad for the tournament along with fellow Russians Roman Pavlyuchenko, Yuri Zhirkov, and Konstantin Zyrianov. However, one of the factors behind Barcelona's reluctance to up their bid for the 27-year-old Arshavin is believed to have been his ineffectiveness against Spanish La Liga defenders as Russia went down 3-0 to Spain in the Euro 2008 semifinals.

The Russians star's agent, Dennis Lakhter, also said earlier that if Barcelona were not willing to up their offer for his client then that would seem to indicate that they did not see him as an automatic first team choice, something that "would not suit Arshavin."

While Zenit are so far unwilling to drop their asking price for Arshavin, there have been rumors in the Russian media that pressure is being brought on the team from "very high up," to release the player, as the presence of a Russian footballer in a top European league "would be good for the country's image". However, with the club set to make its debut in the Champions League, the Arshavin saga may continue right up to August 31, when the transfer window closes.


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