The Russian side demanded that the 27-year-old should pay back half of the £4.3m signing-on fee he was given when he signed a new contract two years ago, according to News of the World.
Arshavin even made a phone plea to Emirates shareholder and Uzbek tycoon Alisher Usmanov in order to secure the move.
The Russian star finaly completed his move to the Gunners when Zenit agreed to waive half the fee.
A source close the the deal told News of the World: “Andrey was so desperate to get the move sorted he was prepared to go to any lengths — and that included contacting Usmanov.
“He was desperate to avoid having to pay back what is a large amount, even for a footballer, but his real desire to join Arsenal outweighed the financial loss.”