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Nov 7, 2008

Desperate Arshavin hints at Zenit strike action

Andrei Arshavin is so desperate to leave Zenit St Petersburg he has insisted he will not play for the club next year if they block a transfer.

The Russian playmaker looked set for a move to Barcelona or Tottenham Hotspur in the summer after impressive performances at Euro 2008 but both moves fell through over Zenit's asking price, thought to be more than £20 million.

The 27-year-old has grown frustrated since playing for Zenit in the Champions League while the club failed to make an impression on the Russian title this term, won by FK Rubin Kazan.

Arshavin believes his club have priced him out of a move and has again pleaded with Zenit to allow him to play in one of Europe's more established leagues.

The player must now hope a club has the money to spend when the transfer window reopens in January.

It is uncertain whether Spurs would remain interested with Harry Redknapp now in charge, though Arshavin would be eligible to play in the UEFA Cup should the north London outfit advance beyond the group stage. Spurs, though, are certainly in need of extra firepower.

"It all comes down to one thing - for Zenit to set a realistic price," Arshavin told Sport Express. "If they do that, I will, of course, leave. [If not] I will remain a Zenit player, but only on paper. Next year I don't want to play here and I will not be playing here.

"That is not an ultimatum, rather a natural reaction to what has happened. I always believed we could come to an agreement on good terms and I could leave the team in a proper manner.

"I have conducted myself reasonably, but the longer things go on the less faith I have. It looks like some kind of conflict is unavoidable, although, as God is my witness, I more than anyone don't want that to happen.

"Everyone tells me that I have won things having stayed at Zenit, in particular the Super Cup. But this isn't the most important thing. The most important thing is a feeling of inner fulfilment, and I don't feel that at all. I also feel that my team-mates are not getting any pleasure out of playing with me by seeing me in this way."

Arshavin admits he has not been personally following the trials and tribulations of Tottenham.

"If I'm honest I haven't seen a single [Tottenham] game. I don't need to - I get a full report of what's happening there," he said. "After the epic of my failed transfer in the summer, a lot of people at Zenit are following this team now."

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