Danny boy

SOCCER-EUROPE-SUPERCUP/Meet the €30 million man who might just make Andrei Arshavin‘s protracted move to Arsenal finally materialise. Danny Alves has played five games for Portugal, had never appeared in European competition before this season and was the third biggest transfer of 2008 after Dimitar Berbatov and Robinho.

So what possessed Zenit Saint Petersburg to make Danny the most expensive player in Russian Premier League history? His record at former club Dynamo Moscow had been impressive if not awe inspiring. But it was the seemingly inevitable impending transfer of club colleague Arshavin last summer that forced Zenit’s hand. Faced with losing their most prized asset in the wake of his glorious performances at Euro 2008, Danny was brought in to take over the creative torch in their midfield.

However, Arshavin was then priced out of a move to any of the long list of admirers from the Premiership, La Liga and Serie A, and Zenit were left with two attacking midfielders in their team. The result is good news for Arsenal, but even better news for Danny. Arshavin has clearly been deemed surplus to requirements by the club in light of Danny’s impressive form. The Portuguese finished second in the Premier League scoring charts with 10 goals, and was named man of the match on his debut in the UEFA Super Cup win against the champions of Europe, Manchester United. In the Champions League earlier this season he was again named man of the match as he helped tame Juventus, while Danny capped the season with a first goal for Portugal against Brazil. In short, he well and truly stole his Russian counterpart’s thunder.

It does beg the question of whether Arshavin has the mental fortitude at the age of 27 to blend his mercurial talents with the likes of Tomáš Rosický, Samir Nasri and Robin van Persie. And, perhaps more to the point, if Arsenal are chasing the wrong Zenit playmaker.

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