Wenger banking on Arshavin influence
Arsene Wenger hopes Arsenal's £15m club record signing Andrei Arshavin can prove to be the "influential force" which kick-starts the Gunners' season.
The most protracted transfer of the January window was finally confirmed late on Tuesday afternoon, almost 24 hours after the deadline, amid reports that the high-profile deal had been given special dispensation because the paperwork had not arrived before Monday's 5pm deadline.
Although some leeway was given on the deadline because the severe snow which crippled London's transport networks the paperwork still needed to be in place by the deadline and various UK newspapers claim Zenit St Petersburg sent through their forms too late and that there was also issues with Arsenal's submissions.
However, the Premier League declared the deal had been "substantively completed prior to the close of the January transfer window" and with all the relevant paperwork now rubber-stamped, Wenger can now at last turn his attentions towards fitting the Russian playmaker into the team.
"Andrei Arshavin is a player I have admired for a long time," said the Arsenal manager. "He is a versatile player with great experience, who will add real quality to our squad.
"Andrei is an exciting impact player with a huge amount of ability and has been an influential force with both Zenit St Petersburg and the Russian national team in recent seasons."
Arshavin will be cup-tied for the Champions League, but has vowed to help the Gunners end their trophy drought after completing his "dream" move to Emirates Stadium in a deal which, it is understood, could eventually be worth a club record £15million.
"Arsenal are one of the leading football clubs in the world, with a group of fantastic young players and a great manager," declared Arshavin, who is likely to be allowed some time to build-up full match fitness after the Russian domestic season finished in November.
"I am looking forward to making the Arsenal supporters happy and helping this great club win trophies. I am happy to be an Arsenal player, it was my dream."
Arshavin has always been keen to join the Gunners, and is reported to have been prepared to take a pay cut to push through the deal after flying into London by a privately-hired jet.
The Russian, who starred at Euro 2008, revealed the prospect of playing under Wenger played a big part in his decision.
"I moved because I like the Arsenal style, Wenger as a coach and I like some of their players," Arshavin said.
"Every time I talked to Arsene Wenger, he said: 'I want you to come to Arsenal'. He had confidence in me."
Arshavin, who has played 41 times for his country, admitted he was glad such a drawn-out transfer had finally been successfully completed.
"It was a very hard few days for me, but now it doesn't matter because I am a Gunner. It is great."
Arshavin, who will wear the number 23 shirt, is unlikely to make his debut in Sunday's north-London derby against Tottenham at White Hart Lane.
The Russian believes it will take him up to two weeks to return to full fitness, but insisted he will have no problems adapting to the English game.
Arsenal chief executive Ivan Gazidis, meanwhile, said the Arsenal board had always backed Wenger's pursuit of the star, who was a member of Zenit's 2008 UEFA Cup winning side.
"Andrei was identified by Arsene as a quality creative player that would add something special to this youthful but talented squad," Gazidis said.
"The board has always backed the manager with his transfer targets and we are delighted to welcome Andrei to the club where he will help us to challenge for honours this season."