Andrei Arshavin feels an authentic devotion to FC Barcelona, according to Catalan paper Sport. The Arsenal striker became enamoured with Barcelona watching Koeman, Stoichkov, Romario and company play when he was a child. And that ‘crush’ remains even until today.
As a good culé, the 28 years old Russian striker remembers one of the brightest days in the Catalan club’s history; 20th May 1992, the day the team won for their first European Cup by beating Sampdoria (1-0) in the final at the Wembley Stadium in London.
“Koeman scored that goal,” recalls Arshavin in an interview with British newspaper Daily Telegraph. “I like Barcelona because no matter who the coach is or what players it has, they always practice attacking football. Always,” he explains.
It is this philosophy that attracted him since he was very small, in his native Russia. He sympathised with Barcelona, win or lose; “For two or three years, Barcelona did not have a good time, losing 2-6 or 7-4. I liked that! They were always attacking! Probably not for the results … but the football is fantastic. If you are a person who love (good) football, you’ll love barça,” he adds.
Arshavin, back then, quivers seeing Barcelona stars in action; “I had no idols, I will not kneel before anyone but I adore Romario, Ronaldo and Stoichkov; football players who played for Barcelona and players who could decide a game alone. They would simply pick up the ball and ran, like Ronaldo. I try to do that. This is what the coaches like from me.”
Naturally, Arshavin also enjoys watching the current Barcelona team under Pep Guardiola; “Barcelona demonstrates that you can play beautiful football and still obtain results. Of course, I support Barcelona in the Champions League final against Manchester United,” he revealed.
Asked if he would dream of playing for Barcelona, he said, “It’s difficult. I’ve been here at Arsenal for nine months now and I have not done anything yet for Arsenal. The football here is perfect. It’s the best.”
Arshavin acknowledges that he feels very comfortable working under Arsène Wenger’s, and feels in tune with their offensive football, something he says, is unusual in the Premier League. He admits that the British way of life is difficult for him, where there are many norms that he does not understand. “In Russia, you can bend the rules,” he said. And he cites the case of visas. Arshavin is disappointed that in England they are only extended for three months, while in his country they are usually for one year.
And he complains about the taxes. In his view, the great stars of the Premiership will ‘migrate’ sooner or later to the Spanish League, for while in England they have to pay a 50% tax, in Spain it is only 27%. Will it also be his case in the future?
Rafa and Ibra approves.