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Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has been quoted by the English media
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has been quoted by the English media as saying that a deal to bring Russian international Andrei Arshavin to London is "90% completed."

Speaking after Arsenal's 1-1 draw at Everton on Wednesday evening, Wenger told journalists that, "The deal is maybe 90 per cent completed. However, the final 10 per cent of any deal can be the most difficult."

The Frenchman said before the game that Arsenal would not break their wage structure for the 27-year-old Zenit St. Petersburg player.

His comments came after Zenit general director Maxim Mitrofanov told Radio Zenit that time was running out for the finalization of the Arshavin deal due to U.K. work visa requirements and the rapidly approaching end of the transfer window on Monday at 17:00 GMT.

Zenit officials say only Arshavin's unwillingness to accept a wage cut is holding up the move. They have also suggested that he repay half of a $5 million bonus paid to the player in 2006 for signing a four-year contract.

"Arsenal cannot raise their offer above 15 million pounds [$21.5 million]. For Zenit, 18 million pounds would be an acceptable sum. Where can we find the extra three million? According to the English club, Arshavin is asking for a salary of 3.5 million pounds a year after tax. If he agreed to 2.5 million, Arsenal would save four million in four years, and three of these could be transferred to Zenit," Mitrofanov said on Wednesday.

Arshavin emerged from the shadows of Russian soccer last summer after unexpectedly leading the national side to the semi-finals of Euro 2008. He immediately became a transfer target for a number of clubs, including Spanish giants Barcelona, but Gazprom-controlled Zenit turned down bids in the region of $30 million as "too low."

Arshavin then threatened to go on strike if he was not sold in the winter transfer window. This, coupled with the global financial crisis, saw Zenit drop their price for the forward.

However, it is still not clear if Zenit's reduced demand will mean an end to what the Russian press have referred to as the "Arshavin soap opera."


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