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Zenit St. Petersburg star Andrei Arshavin
Zenit St. Petersburg star Andrei Arshavin has said that if the club does not let him leave in the winter transfer window then he will remain a Zenit player "on paper only."

Arshavin became a target for a number of European sides this summer after helping Zenit lift the UEFA Cup and then propelling Russia to the semifinals of Euro 2008.

Although the diminutive forward made no secret of his desire to "test himself abroad," Zenit, controlled by state-run energy giant Gazprom, subsequently turned down offers of some $20 million and $26 million from Barcelona and Tottenham Hotspur respectively as "too low."

"A professional cannot lack the desire to play when he walks onto the field," Arshavin told the Sport Express paper. "I try and play for Zenit the best I can. But four months ago I told the president of the club that I didn't want to remain in the side any longer. I then repeated this more than once. Unfortunately, my words were either not heard, or not taken seriously."

"This is all heading to one thing - for Zenit to name a reasonable price. If they do this, then, of course, I'll leave. If they don't I'll be listed as a Zenit player, but on paper only. I won't play here next year," he said.

"This is not an ultimatum," he went on, "but a natural reaction to events. I always believed that we would be able to come to an agreement and that I could leave on good terms. But the more it continues, the less I believe in that. It turns out that we won't get by without conflict, although, and let God be my witness, there is nothing I want less."

The transfer saga around Arshavin has dragged on for the whole summer affecting both the player's form and the atmosphere within Zenit, leading to the club surrendering its Russian title.

"I was basically put through torture for four months and the club with me," the player commented. "If the club doesn't release me this winter, I won't be able to go out and just play anymore. I'm just being honest. When you are forced out onto the pitch with a big stick, you can't ignore that. You can't get that out your head."

"If I don't want to play anymore, I'll say. Which will happen next year if mine and Zenit's paths don't separate," he concluded.

Twenty-seven-year old Arshavin, who came through the club's youth system to become a genuine European star, has spent his entire career at Zenit.

Zenit's Dutch trainer Dick Advocaat has said that if Arshavin wants to leave, then the club should let him go, the Zenit press service reported on Friday.

The club's final match of the season is a Champions League tie away to Real Madrid on December 10, and Advocaat said that a decision would be taken after that game on Arshavin's future.

"There will be talks between the player and the club. A joint decision will be taken," he said.

Tottenham are rumored to be considering making another move for Arshavin when the transfer window opens on January 1.

Arshavin's compatriot, Roman Pavlyuchenko, joined the English side from Spartak Moscow in the summer. After an unsuccessful start, the club's manager, Juan Ramos, was sacked, and the side brought in English trainer Harry Rednapp. Both Tottenham and Pavlyuchenko were rejuvenated, and the Russian has scored twice in his last three games, including a memorable winner against Liverpool.

"With me in the team, of course, Tottenham would be contenders for the Champions League!" said Arshavin. "Seriously though," he went on, "it's tough for me to say anything about the side because I'm not at the club and I haven't seen any of their games."

Zenit travel to the Urals city of Perm on Sunday to play Amkar in a match they must win to maintain their bid for Champions League soccer next season.


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