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Rewind to Boxing Day 1963

Barclays Premier League
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By ESPN Staff

Arshavin voices desperation for Barca deal

Andrei Arshavin insists a move to Barcelona is his number one priority as speculation over his future continues in the wake of his outstanding displays for Russia at Euro 2008.

Chelsea, Arsenal and AC Milan are just a few of the clubs reportedly interested in the Zenit St Petersburg star, but the 27-year-old insists he has his heart set on a move to the Nou Camp.

'My dream is Barca,' Arshavin told Spain's Sport newspaper. 'But to say that isn't new. The whole world knows that I have dreamed forever about going to Barca.

'Messi, Arshavin, Henry? Messi is very, very good and to play with him must be a marvel, and the same goes for Henry. What more can I say? I would love it.

'Barca is a team that can win 7-0 or lose 4-3 because their style of football is going on the attack. As long as I remember it's been like that and all that fills me with enthusiasm.

'For that reason I've followed Barca closely for a long time.'

Barcelona have already had a bid for Arshavin knocked back and are believed to have been put off by Zenit's €30 million (£24million) asking price.

Barca's capture of Arsenal midfielder Alexander Hleb yesterday has concerned the Russian, who fears the Nou Camp kitty could dry up in the wake of their fifth purchase of the summer.

'If they have signed Hleb, I don't know if they still want me,' he continued. 'We are distinct, of course. I know that. But do Barca have more money to sign me?

'I hope that they call me, that they sign me. But Zenit are asking for quite a lot of money.

'I only know that Barcelona offered 15 million and that Zenit wanted 30 and that's a lot of money.'

With Barca coach Pep Guardiola unlikely to be in a position to table a fresh bid for Arshavin, speculation has now turned to the Premier League - with Chelsea, Arsenal and Tottenham all reportedly interested in his services.

With Arshavin's future plans increasingly cloaked in mystery, the player himself at least has two certainties to fall back on - that he will leave Zenit and will not join Real Madrid.

'I'm not going to stay,' he continued. 'I've taken a decision and (Zenit boss Dick) Advocaat knows it's certain I'll leave.

'I don't know if I'm going to London but I have made my desires very clear.

'It would be very difficult to go to Real Madrid. I don't see myself playing for Barcelona's great rivals.

'No one has talked to me about Madrid and, no, I won't play there.'

He added: 'It's got nothing to do with money. I doubt another club would pay me as much as I could get at Zenit. It's not a question of money but of sporting ambition. I want to play in a big league.'

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