The playmaker earned plaudits for his performance on Friday, as he captained Russia to an impressive 4-1 win over Czech Republic. National team boss Dick Advocaat praised Arshavin for helping get Russia’s UEFA European Championship campaign off to a bright start, the BBC reports.
“He worked very hard and played very well,” Advocaat said. “He is a very important player for us. I am very positive about him.”
The 31-year-old assisted on two of his team’s four goals in the Euro 2012 opener. In the 24th minute, Roman Shirkov took a pass from Arshavin and scored to make the score 2-0. In the 82nd minute, Arshavin gave Roman Pavlyuchenko the ball, which the the latter turned into an early contender for “goal of the tournament.”
Arshavin’s influence in so many of Russia’s best attacking moves left fans of two clubs scratching their heads. He was the best player on day one of Euro 2012, but remains frustratingly inconsistent at club level. He set the Premier League alight upon joining Arsenal in January 2009, but his form dipped sharply after his first year in England. Shortly after the start of the 2011-12 season, he was benched by manager Arsene Wenger, and mocked by his own fans.
He joined Zenit St. Petersburg — the club for whom he was a hero when he left Russian soccer for Arsenal — on loan in February. He scored three goals in nine starts, but his hometown return was not impressive enough to prompt Zenit to pursue a full transfer, according to Sky Sports.
“Everything depends on Arshavin. If Andrey is ready to stay in the team and go on the field as a player, we are ready to discuss it,” Zenit CEO Maxim Mitrofanov said.
“Arshavin is part of our club but, with all due respect to him, he will only stay in the event that he proves himself useful as an active player. Not as a man making up the numbers.”
Arshavin is set to return to Arsenal after Euro 2012, but his future still hangs in the balance. It seems the Gunners want to clear his hefty salary off their books, and Zenit is unsure if he is worth the investment.
But if he continues to stand out from a crowd of Europe’s best players, he’ll have no problem finding a new club. As Bob Marley would have said, “the stone that two builders refuse, will always be Russia’s head cornerstone.”