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  Tuesday, December 10, 2019
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In his first Russian comments since finally signing for Arsenal soccer
In his first Russian comments since finally signing for Arsenal soccer club, Andrei Arshavin said moving to the Emirates Stadium was "a dream come true."

The on-off deal, dubbed the Arshavin soap opera by Russian media, looked to be off again as the transfer window closed at 17:00 GMT on Monday and there was still no news. Media reports then said that a last-minute deal had been clinched to make Arshavin an Arsenal player until June 2012.

"I am happy to be an Arsenal player. My dream has come true. Arsenal is one of the best football clubs in the world, and has some fantastic young players and trained by excellent specialists. I hope to please the Arsenal fans and help this great club win trophies," the 27-year-old former Zenit St. Petersburg player said on his personal website.

The deal, which went ahead for "an undisclosed fee," saw Arshavin on Tuesday night paraded to fans outside the Emirates Stadium in north London with his new No 23 shirt, previously worn by Portsmouth and former-England defender Sol Campbell.

Arshavin said the protracted wrangling between his former and new clubs meant he had already had a chance to get to know the players.

"While the legal procedures were being completed, I had my first training session of 1 hour 15 minutes. We started in the gym and then out on the pitch. My impression from the time I spent with my new team mates was positive. They believe in me," he said.

Arsenal trainer Arsene Wenger said on Arsenal TV he was happy the transfer had gone through "We are delighted to have Andrei Arshavin, he is a player I have admired for a long time. He is a versatile player with great experience, who will add real quality to our squad."

"Andrei is an exciting impact player with a huge amount of ability and has been an influential force with both Zenit St. Petersburg and the Russian national team in recent seasons," the Frenchman added.

It is looking doubtful, however, that the Russian playmaker will make his debut this weekend in the north London derby. Tottenham Hotspur have the only other Russian in the English Premier League - striker Roman Pavlyuchenko, who has scored 12 goals for in 26 games since signing from Spartak Moscow in the summer.

Arshavin, whose last played in an official match on December 10, said "At the moment I'm 100% fit. Whether I play [against Tottenham] or not, that's up to Arsene [Wenger]."

Saying goodbye to Zenit St. Petersburg, who he helped to win the UEFA Cup and Super Cup last year, Arshavin thanked the Zenit fans "who have supported me ... throughout my career in my hometown and club."

Arshavin scored 51 goals in 232 appearances for Zenit, and has found the net 15 times in 41 games for his country, which he inspired to the semifinals of Euro 2008. He was also included in UEFA's team of the tournament.


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