Smith does mega deal

By Danny Caro, February 5, 2009

Football agent Phil Smith has described the transfer of Zenit St. Petersburg’s Andrei Arsharvin to Arsenal as “the most complex I’ve ever been involved in”.

Smith, a director of First Artist Sport, played a key role in what is believed to be the most expensive move to a British club during the transfer window. The on-off deal went through a minute before the window closed.

Representing Arsenal for the deal, Smith said: “I took the player to meet Arsene Wenger at the Emirates before Christmas. Negotiations started with the first offer coming between Christmas and the new year. We then ran into problems as new year celebrations in Russia rumbled on for a week.”

Arsharvin left Zenit’s Dubai training camp to join Smith in Paris. The pair returned to England on Sunday night, fortunately on the last flight back after two other scheduled planes were cancelled due to the snow.

The deal was finally completed at 4.59pm on Monday. Smith said: “It wasn’t pleasant and was indeed quite fractious as Zenit didn’t really want to sell, even though they acknowledged that it was the right time for their player to move.

“Speaking as an Arsenal fan, it’s been particularly satisfying to bring him to the club, a fantastic experience.”

Last updated: 12:08pm, February 5 2009