Arsenal shareholder Alisher Usmanov is the driving force behind their bid for Zenit St Petersburg midfielder Andrei Arshavin, it has been revealed.
Usmanov is chairman of Gazprom Investment holding, a branch of the state-run energy giant Gazprom, which owns Zenit.
"Usmanov wants Arshavin to join Arsenal. In fact he insists on this deal," Anton Lisin, a football writer and columnist with Sovietsky Sport told the Guardian. "Arshavin is desperate to leave and play abroad. Arsenal is definitely the place where he can succeed and where they play very technical passing football."
Lisin predicted that Manchester City could also table a bid for Arshavin, should their much-vaunted attempt to sign Kaka fall through. City had already informally held soundings with Zenit, he suggested.
Zenit refused to confirm this but said they had held "informal" talks with "several clubs".