LONDON // With clubs baulking at his transfer fee and his Euro 2008 exploits fading by the day, Andrei Arshavin is still no nearer his dream move to one of Europe's top clubs. With Barcelona and Chelsea seemingly no longer interested, his agent is now trying to finalise a move to Arsenal by saying how the Gunners could be a perfect fit.
With Emmanuel Adebayor and Alexander Hleb on their way out, Arsenal are looking to strengthen their side for the new season. But their coach, Arsene Wenger, is known to be keen on a powerful striker in the mould of Adebayor to replace the Togo frontman, who seems set for Barcelona now rather than AC Milan. Klaas-Jan Huntelaar of Ajax, and the Blackburn striker Roque Santa Cruz are on his radar, but Arshavin's agent, Dennis Lachter, says Wenger is a fan of his client, rated at £20 million (Dh146m), too and they would be his preferred choice if a deal can be agreed.
Barcelona, under new manager Pep Guardiola, have had an offer rejected by his club, Zenit St Petersburgh, who say that despite interest, no bids have yet been made by an English team. Lachter said: "The stable situation in the club and the influence of Arsene Wenger to Arsenal and to English football is huge. I think this is an advantage. "If Arsenal go for Arshavin it could be really good for both parties. Arsenal are a very young team and Arshavin is 27.
"There's something about combining young and older players, they propagate attacking football. Guardiola [at Barcelona] was an excellent player, but no one knows what kind of a manager he is." As Cristiano Ronaldo's departure looks to be hastened following his claim that he is being treated like a "slave", Manchester United are already looking at strengthening their attack for the new season. The Premier League champions have targeted Dimitar Berbatov and Sergio Aguero as potential Old Trafford arrivals. The pair will cost around £50m (Dh365m) between them and that cash is likely to come from the sale of Ronaldo to Real Madrid.
Berbatov's agent, Emil Danchev, has confirmed interest from United and Jose Segui, who represents the Atletico Madrid starlet Aguero, 20, said the Argentine is also a wanted man. "I've received an offer from a big English club and they've asked me to pass that offer on to Atletico Madrid," he said. "I can't say anything more until I've spoken to the club about this definite offer. I can only say that it's one of the best clubs in Europe and it's not Chelsea."
While Sir Alex Ferguson has been fighting to keep the Portuguese star at the club, Ronaldo has not endeared himself to the United fans by his recent comments. Sepp Blatter, the Fifa president, said players were being treated like slaves by being tied down to long-term contracts and said Ronaldo should be allowed to leave if he wants. The player agreed with the controversial view and United fans vented their disgust during their 2-0 win at Aberdeen on Saturday with banners saying 'Ronaldo slave out'.
United now head to South Africa on tour and Ferguson is expected to sort out Ronaldo's future when they return at the end of the month. The winger, 23, will miss the tour after undergoing surgery on his ankle and is expected to be out of action for three months. Meanwhile, the United defender Rio Ferdinand is not expected to face a four-match ban as feared for accidentally kicking a female steward after his side's fiery meeting with Chelsea last season.
Ferdinand apologised, but reports suggested he would be given the lengthy suspension and miss England's friendly with the Czech Republic in August too after a Football Association inquiry. @Email:firstname.lastname@example.org