Arshavin boarded a private plane from St Petersburg to Heathrow last night and is expected at Arsenal’s London Colney training base this morning to meet manager Arsene Wenger and be examined by medical staff.
The deal had appeared in serious doubt as late as yesterday afternoon, as the clubs continued to struggle to thrash out an agreement.
There were quibbles over whether Arsenal would reimburse Arshavin for the money he stands to lose by leaving Zenit before the end of his contract, his wage demands and the size of the fee — Zenit had initially wanted £20m (€22m) for their star player.
Arshavin, 27, stands to earn in the region of £60,000 (€68,000) a week at the Emirates stadium and is expected to sign a four-year contract.
Wenger had sounded a pessimistic note on Saturday night when asked for his view on the likelihood of the transfer being completed, claiming “it is more likely not to happen than to happen.’’
But Arsenal’s need for creativity in their bid to reach the Champions League has made Arshavin’s arrival essential, with the severity of their predicament underlined by former chief executive David Dein yesterday.
Dein left the Emirates in 2007 after clashing with his fellow board members over the club’s future direction and now believes his worst fears could be realised. “I left because I could see what was on the horizon,” he said. “I said it was in danger of slipping and I think that’s what is happening. The first goal is to get that Champions League place. Five points behind Aston Villa is a mini-mountain to climb.”