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Arsenal's depth could give them edge


Spanish side recreate album covers

The Toe Poke
By ESPN Staff

Exits would be 'enormous' loss

Andrei Arshavin admits it would be an ''enormous'' loss for Arsenal to see captain Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri leave, but insists focus must remain on ending the Gunners' trophy drought.

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Barcelona are looking to complete the transfer of their former trainee before the new Premier League starts this weekend, but Arsenal remain steadfast in a £40 million valuation.

France international Nasri has yet to agree a contract extension with Manchester City ready to offer £22 million for the midfielder if Arsenal don't want to let him leave on a free next summer.

Arshavin, though, accepts there is little any club can do when a player has his heart set on a move away.

''The policy of our club [next season] is the same, but it is difficult to say anything specific now, not least from the fact that two leading players, Cesc and Samir, have not decided their future,'' Arshavin said in an interview with Russian newspaper Sport Express.

''The loss of any one of them would be enormous, and we naturally want to see Cesc and Samir play with us in the future - but if the player wants to leave the club... It is hard to say [whether they will stay].''

Arshavin, however, rejected suggestions he was set to leave Emirates Stadium, reports having linked the former Zenit St Petersburg winger with a move to Anzhi Makhachkala, who are bankrolled by billionaire owner Suleyman Kerimov, captained by former Brazil World Cup winner Roberto Carlos and recently signed Yuri Zhirkov from Chelsea.

''I have already said that this season I am sure to be at Arsenal, and not somewhere else,'' added Arshavin, 30, who signed for the Gunners in January 2009. ''If I ever return to Russia, then the priority option for me will be Zenit - but no-one can predict what will happen to you in the future, in a few years or even a season. As the saying goes: if you want to make God laugh - tell him about your plans for tomorrow.''

With or without key men Fabregas and Nasri, Arshavin accepts Arsenal will face a testing campaign ahead as they look to remain competitive.

''The season will very difficult. I think that six teams will challenge for the top spot,'' he said. ''The main thing, though, is to win any title with Arsenal.''


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