Agent bombshell: Wenger forced to pay double for marquee Arsenal signing
By Joe Nelson
Football agent Jon Smith has claimed in a new book, The Deal: Inside the World of a Super-Agent that Arsene Wenger paid double the price for Andrei Arshavin.
The Russian star was captured on January 31st 2009 from Zenit St Petersburg following a stellar Euro 2008 display, but it seems that Wenger paid over the odds to land the wide forward.
Arshavin cost the Gunners a then club record fee of £15million, but the French boss was hoping to woo the star for just £7.5million.
Smith exclaims that the reason for the drastic overpayment, that was strictly against Wenger’s philosophy was that the club were scared of the Russian leader, Vladimir Putin, whose boyhood club was Zenit.
Smith expresses in his book that: “Arsene was involved in every step.”
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The club is also run by the state-owned energy company and sponsors of the Champions League, Gazprom, the book reports.
But after three failing months of trying to sweet-talk the Russian giants, Wenger was forced to show his whole hand and pay the £15million asking price Putin had set on Arshavin’s head.
“Every conversation with Arsenal was based around how Arsene was feeling and things he thought they could do to bridge the gap.
“Arsene was totally in control on that environment.”
Smith goes on to reveal that it was the influence of 30% Gunner shareholder Alisher Usmanov that got the deal over the line, as he went behind the backs of the Arsenal hierarchy to land a safe deal for Arshavin.
Smith wrote: “Technically, we might not have been given permission [to speak to Arshavin].
“But that’s my job for a club and player at any given time. I am the bridge that the club can’t cross.
“In most cases of employment exchanges in any walk of life, the potential employee and employer have had some sort of prior connection.
“There has to be a person ready to break the conventional ethical boundary of not pinching other people’s staff and actually make contact. So we do sometimes facilitate that in football.”
With the closure of the window looming and £1.2million still separating the Gunners and their man, Smith revealed that he incredibly paid the difference himself in order to land Arshavin.
But Arsenal did eventually land Arshavin, who went on to play 97 times for the North Londoners, scoring 31 times, including a memorable four against Liverpool in one game at Anfield, along with a winner against Barcelona at The Emirates.
In other Arsenal news, Gunners fans react on Twitter as former man re-joins Ligue 1 club.