Sergei Ivanov Calls on Zenit to Let Arshavin Go

Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov has weighed in on the professional future of footballer Andrei Arshavin, saying the Russian star's club should relent on his transfer fee so that he can play abroad.

In an interview published Thursday in Sport Express, Ivanov -- better known as an avid basketball fan -- called Zenit St. Petersburg's asking price for Arshavin "excessive."

"I think Arshavin has done so much for Zenit, that if he wants to, they should let him go at a reasonable price," Ivanov told the daily sports broadsheet in an interview from Beijing, where he is attending the Olympics. "As far as I understand the transfer market, the price that Zenit is categorically demanding for Arshavin is excessive."

Arshavin, who led Zenit to the UEFA Cup title in May and the Russian national team to the semifinals of the Euro 2008 in June, has said he would like to test his skills in a foreign club and would take a pay cut to do so.

He told Sport Express earlier this month that he had heard -- unofficially -- that his transfer fee is 27 million euros ($40 million).

Zenit said Wednesday that it had ruled out Arshavin's transfer to British club Tottenham Hotspur. Earlier this year, the club rejected a 15 million euro ($23.5 million) offer from FC Barcelona.