By Richard Clarke

Arsène Wenger has charged Andrey Arshavin with the job of becoming Arsenal’s talisman.

The manager believes his Russian playmaker will rank alongside world greats like Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo if he can help the North London side win a trophy this season.

Arshavin helped to elevate Zenit St Petersburg to European honours before arriving at Emirates Stadium in February and Wenger argues that the time is right for a repeat at Arsenal.

"I believe he has a big challenge in front of him,” said the 59-year-old. “He made his team in Russia win and if he manages to make Arsenal win he will become an all-time great.

"That is the real challenge he faces and I am convinced he has all the potential to do it.”

Of course, potential has been present at Arsenal for a few years now,
maximising it has proved more difficult. Wenger believes Arshavin can exist in the same category as Messi and Ronaldo, he just needs the trophies to prove it.

"I think we have many players who are in that bracket and this is a season when they can show it,” he said. “I consider him a great player already but if you want the consideration of everybody else people think about your qualities with trophies.

“Yes you can say players like Ryan Giggs can never win a World Cup because Wales never get there. But he shows in his club that he is a great.

“I just love Arshavin as a footballer because he has things that are just down to him. He is intelligent and he looks like he is a shrewd street-player because he creates something always in unexpected situations.

"He has a low centre of gravity, great pace and tricky dribble. He uses all that he has in the locker in an intelligent way and don't forget he is a winner as well."

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2 Oct 2009