Wed, Feb 04, 2009 - Page 20 News List

Keane returns to Spurs, Arshavin joins Arsenal

AP , MANCHESTER, ENGLAND

Russian forward Andrei Arshavin kicks the ball during the Euro 2008 championships semi-final between Russia and Spain on June 26 last year at Ernst-Happel stadium in Vienna, Austria. Arshavin of Zenit St Petersburg has joined Arsenal, sources at the Premiership club said on Monday.

PHOTO: AFP

Robbie Keane rejoined Tottenham on Monday after only six months at Liverpool, and Arsenal added Russia playmaker Andrei Arshavin to its depleted squad.

Keane is the third former Spurs player that manager Harry Redknapp has brought back to White Hart Lane. He is set to make his debut in Sunday’s north London derby against Arsenal.

The Ireland striker moved to Liverpool for £19 million (US$37.9 million), which could have risen to £20.3 million depending on his success during the four-year deal. But he struggled at the club he supported as a boy, scoring only seven goals in 28 appearances.

The Reds are believed to have accepted £16 million from Spurs after rejecting an offer of about £1 million less on Sunday night, although that could rise if Keane wins trophies.

Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez didn’t even include Ireland’s record scorer in the squad for two of the last three games, including Sunday’s 2-0 victory over Chelsea.

The 28-year-old Keane’s six years at Spurs was his longest spell with a team following stints with Wolves, Coventry, Inter Milan and Leeds.

“It was a difficult decision to make to leave Tottenham in the summer — it proved not to be the right move for me,” Keane said.

“I know some Spurs fans will feel I let them down by leaving but I can assure them I shall be giving my all for this club. This club has terrific fans and I want to repay them for all their support,” he said.

“We’ve got to get on and fight our way up that league table,” he said.

Spurs is 14th in the 20-team Premier League, just one point above the relegation zone.

Keane scored 107 goals for Spurs and helped them win the League Cup last season, but he will miss this year’s final on March 1 against Manchester United after playing three minutes of Liverpool’s third-round victory over Crewe in September.

Concluding the deal took on greater urgency for Spurs after striker Jermain Defoe was ruled out for up to 10 weeks with a stress fracture to his right foot.

“Unfortunately he will be out quite a while it seems so it was important we got Robbie in,” Redknapp said. “We are much stronger now and we have a squad that can do the job for sure.”

Defoe returned to White Hart Lane earlier this month after a year at Redknapp’s former club Portsmouth, and last week defender Pascal Chimbonda rejoined the club after two seasons at Sunderland.

When Keane left in the offseason, then-Spurs manager Juande Ramos, who was fired in October, had been hoping to use the fee from Liverpool to lure Arshavin.

But talks with Zenit St Petersburg stalled over the price tag — and north London rival Arsenal experienced the same problems with the Russians in recent weeks.

A breakthrough was reached as the transfer window was shutting, although the Gunners had to wait until yesterday to discover whether the 27-year-old Russia playmaker’s registration has been ratified by the Premier League.

Arshavin helped Zenit win last season’s UEFA Cup and pushed for a transfer after an impressive European Championship last year, when he helped guide Russia into the semi-finals.

The Gunners are fifth in the Premier League, 10 points behind leader Manchester United, and manager Arsene Wenger identified Arshavin as his main target to compensate for the losses of long-term injury absentees Cesc Fabregas, Tomas Rosicky and Theo Walcott.

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