Arsenal are ready to sell their out-of-favour Russian midfielder Andrei Arshavin to his home club Zenit Saint Petersburg for his original transfer sum of €16.5 million (Dh77.5m), according to reports.
Moscow's respected Sovietsky Sport daily said Zenit were interested in acquiring the 30-year-old Russia captain and eventually assigning him to coach their youth club. Sovietsky Sport said its source confirmed that "Arsenal is ready to enter negotiations with Zenit".
The report comes in the wake of British media speculation that Arsene Wenger, the Arsenal manager, had decided to part with his struggling playmaker during the January transfer window.
"We are always interested in Arshavin," Igor Korneyev, the Zenit director, told Sovietsky Sport. "But I can neither confirm nor deny whether we have received an offer."
Arshavin's stock soared when he spearheaded one of the most dazzling Russia sides in decades to a semi-final appearance to in the 2008 European Championships. Arsenal signed him early the following year after paying the €16.5m transfer and saw him make an immediate impact with six goals in 12 games. But he has scored only once in the Premier League in 13 appearances this season and has started only six matches.
Arshavin's return to Russia has been rumoured repeatedly and he most recently denied interest from the big-spending Russian upstarts Anzhi Makhachkala - the new home of the Cameroon striker Samuel Eto'o.
But Arshavin reportedly is frustrated that a lack of regular playing time is hurting his chances of making Russia's Euro 2012 team and is now more serious about a move.
Sovietsky Sport said all transfer decisions at Zenit were made by the club's sponsor, Gazprom, and that the Russian natural-gas giant - while currently looking for a striker - had long-term plans for Arshavin, the home darling.
"The player's return is possible if he decides on it," Alexei Miller, the Gazprom chief, was quoted earlier this month. "We all have to return to our homelands sooner or later."
* Agence France-Presse