Tuesday, July 8, 2008

What are Zenit Thinking?

So this isn't the most breaking news. Get over it.

Why are Zenit St. Petersburg refusing to sell Andrei Arshavin to Barcelona? At what point will his value be higher than it is now? Don't they understand the way the system in Europe works?

Let me explain the situation. Arshavin is one of the most sought after players after his amazing run through the UEFA Cup with Zenit and then the Russian side at Euro 2008. He led Zenit to the UEFA Cup over Rangers, in Manchester no less, and got great exposure to the British press. Then he thrilled fans and naysayers alike in Austria/Switzerland, with the eyes of all of Europe upon him. He is as popular as he will ever be. No one really watches the Russian league, and even if they do, what are the chances that his magical run in 2007/08 will be repeated. Based on his track record, I would say slim.

What are the benefits for Zenit you ask? Simply that he can get them millions of Euros with which to use to bolster their side for the future. Arshavin is not young. Well, he's not ultra-young. He's 27. Why not take the money and run? Invest in highly prized Russian youngsters to create a stronger youth system and in turn create a longer-term window for sustained success both domestically and in Europe.

Plus the guy has been a rabble-rouser for most of his career before last season. He's more likely to fall back into that style of play/life than he is to continue his stirring successes. Dump him off on someone else to deal with and reap the financial rewards. Twelve million Euros goes a long, long way in Russia these days.

I'm sure fans of Zenit don't want him gone, but the way European football is set up these days, good players in small markets don't last. They sign with big clubs and the financial windfalls for the smaller sides from smaller countries allow them to grow domestically. The ultimate value for the Zenit program is in Russia. It simply is not going to gain an international following to the tune of the English or mega-Spanish clubs.

So, Zenit, let Arshavin go. It's in everyone's best interest. He's the highest paid player in all of Russia. Use the transfer money and the money you won't have to pay him in the future to create a dominant Russian side. It makes sense. At least from this side of the Atlantic.

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