Jon Smith, who is a football agent, was talking at the Oxford Union when he revealed a surprising twist in the Arshavin deal.
During the January 2009 transfer window, Arshavin was persistently pursued by Arsenal, who seemed to be getting nowhere with the long, drawn-out negotiations.
On 2 February, transfer deadline day, Arshavin was staying in a Hertfordshire hotel, just a few miles from the Arsenal training ground.
At around 10 am, he left the hotel and was rumoured to be heading back to Zenit, but with less than an hour of the transfer window left, a bid from Arsenal was finally accepted by Zenit.
Arshavin had agreed personal terms and passed a medical, and it was widely expected an announcement was imminent, but a compensation payment by Arshavin himself to Zenit was supposedly holding up the deal.
The deal was further complicated by a snowstorm in England that had delayed the Premier League’s registration process, eventually forcing the league to extend the deadline beyond 5 pm, which turned out to be a lucky break for Arsenal.
The deal was not confirmed until the following day, nearly 24 hours after the formal transfer deadline had passed, with Arsenal announcing “a long-term deal” for an undisclosed fee.
From the story below, it appears that Arsenal were not only negotiating with Arshavin and Zenit, but also Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Smith was working as a negotiator for Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger and was tasked with negotiating with Zenit to bring Russian superstar Andrey Arshavin to the Emirates.
And, according to Smith, Arsenal got nowhere with negotiations on the price and finally caved in, paying full price with only 4 seconds of the deadline remaining.
It is a great insight into how football negotiations work, and one wonders how many deals have come so close to running out of time.
Watch Jon Smith’s explanation of the story at 40:00 minutes in the below video.
Arshavin had a mixed career at the Emirates, constantly finding himself on the sidelines – something which the striker himself admitted he found “psychologically difficult” and claimed it nearly gave him depression.
Arshavin would later return to Zenit, this time on a free transfer from Arsenal.