10 Russian Summer Signings to Watch in 2017/18

Leandro Paredes during his Roma stint. Photo: Wolf

Leandro Paredes – AS Roma to Zenit St. Petersburg, Fee – €23 million

One area where Zenit struggled last season was the centre of midfield, as the departure of playmaking midfielder Axel Witsel before the second half of the season left a hole which Brazilian winter transfer window signing Hernani and fellow Brazilian Mauricio failed to fill. This is the whole 23-year-old Leandro Paredes is expected to fill.

After breaking into Roma’s first team in the last season, Paredes played 27 Serie A games, scoring 3 goals. According to Squawka, Paredes was involved in the creation of 43 goal scoring chances throughout the season, recording one assist and having a pass completion ratio of 89 percent.

Paredes was linked with sides such as Liverpool, Dortmund and Bayern Munich, so this is a huge coup for Zenit and after winning his first cap for the Argentine national team this summer, a great season for Zenit could secure his place at next summer’s World Cup should Argentina qualify.

Sebastian Driussi – River Plate to Zenit St. Petersburg – €15 million

Zenit have been one of the busiest Russian clubs in the market and another one of their purchases has caught the eye, River Plate’s talented 21-year-old Argentine international striker Sebastian Driussi. The size of the fee means there will be pressure on Driussi to deliver, however, he comes with an impressive pedigree having scored 16 league goals and contributed three assists last season for River.

Driussi is also able to play on the wing, which considering the foreign player limits in Russian football could prove useful for Zenit as it will enable them to field Russian international Artyom Dzyuba in the striking position alongside Driussi on the wing when circumstances permit.

Reportedly, Tottenham and Marseille were also tracking Driussi thus highlighting further how important having a manager with pedigree like Mancini is to attract sought-after talent. Like Paredes, a strong season by Driussi could put him in the thoughts of new Argentina manager Jorge Sampaoli for next summer’s World Cup.

Nikita Medvedev – FC Rostov to Lokomotiv Moscow – Free Transfer

One of the quickest rises in Russian football has been that of 22-year-old goalkeeper Nikita Medvedev. After joining Rostov in Feburary 2016 from the third tier of Russian football, Medvedev deputized Soslan Dzhanaev until November 2016, when the latter picked a season-ending injury. Between November 30th 2016 and 22nd April 2017, Medvedev went eight games and 772 minutes in the Russian Premier League without conceding a goal, the second longest streak in Russian football history.

READ MORE: Nikita Medvedev – Record Breaker

However, Rostov’s precarious financial situation saw Lokomotiv sign the keeper on a free transfer this summer. The signing should now start a fascinating battle at club level between Medvedev and Lokomotiv goalkeeping stalwart Guilherme Marinato for the number one goalkeeping spot.

Marko Petkovic – Red Star Belgrade to Spartak Moscow – Free Transfer

It has been a relatively quiet summer on the transfer front for defending champions Spartak, who understandably have concentrated on keeping their current star players. Yet, one area of the squad that needed strengthening was at right back and the signing of 24-year-old Serb Marko Petkovic from Red Star Belgrade should do that.

After three seasons as the regular right back at Red Star, Spartak have swooped to sign Petkovic on a free transfer in preparation for the defence of their league title and the Champions League. Petkovic has two caps for the Serbian national team, won in 2015 and 2016, however, has struggled to be a regular with one potential reason being only playing in a low-ranked league like the Serbian league. However, with Petkovic now exposed to football in a higher ranked league with Spartak and Champions League football to look forward to it could help him win more caps with the Serbian national team in preparation for next summer’s World Cup, with Serbia well placed to qualify.

Dmitry Poloz – FC Rostov to Zenit St. Petersburg – Free Transfer

26-year-old Dmitry Poloz made a positive impression at the 2017 Confederations Cup for the Russian national team and his versatility of being able to play on both the wing and as a striker will be useful to Zenit as they attempt to compete strongly in three competitions this season.

He has been profilic for FC Rostov over the past two seasons, and has also established himself as an important part of the national team.

Poloz’s high work-rate noticeable throughout his time at Rostov could fit well with Mancini, who throughout his time at Manchester City and Inter Milan always encouraged high levels of pressing and off the ball work from his players.

Solomon Kvirkvelia – Rubin Kazan to Lokomotiv Moscow – €2.5 million

Solomon Kvirkvelia during a game for Lokomotiv last season. Photo: Елена Рыбакова

Solomon Kvirkvelia during a game for Lokomotiv last season. Photo: Елена Рыбакова

Lokomotiv’s signing of 25-year-old Georgian central defender Solomon Kvirkvelia from Rubin Kazan could prove one of the best purchases of the season. Kvirkvelia originally joined Lokomotiv last winter on loan from the Tatar side and established himself in Lokomotiv’s defence alongside Croatian veteran Vedran Corluka. It was no surprise, therefore, when Lokomotiv took up the opportunity to make Kvirkvelia’s spell in Moscow a permanent one this summer.

Kvirkvelia was not so long ago linked with English giants Liverpool, and impressive performances from a player will still a lot of time on his side at just 25, could reignite interest in him from clubs in larger European leagues.

Fyodor Kudryashov – FK Rostov to Rubin Kazan – Undisclosed fee

After returning to Kazan, Rubin’s new head coach Kurban Berdyev has raided his old club Rostov, and one of the players he has brought with him is 30-year-old defender Fyodor Kudryashov. Since leaving Spartak in 2012 after failing to nail down a first team place, the Russian international has cemented his reputation as one of Russia’s best defenders with five exceptional seasons at Akhmat Grozny and Rostov, winning 11 caps in the process for the Russian national team.

Able to play as both left back and central defender, Kudryashov’s arrival strengthen both Rubin’s defence as well as their depth.

Wanderson – Red Bull Salzburg to FC Krasnodar – €8 million

This summer, FC Krasnodar bid farewell to one of their best players of the last four seasons, 31-year-old Brazilian striker Wanderson who departed for newly promoted Dinamo Moscow on a free transfer. However, a younger namesake and compatriot has been signed by the club as 22-year-old Wanderson Maciel Sousa Campos has moved to the Southern Russia from Austrian champions Red Bull Salzburg.

The signing of Wanderson, who spent time at the prestigious Ajax academy as a junior and is the son of former Ajax star Wamberto, could be one of the most underrated pieces of business made this season. His stats for Red Bull Salzburg are encouraging, as he played 20 times in the Austrian Bundesliga scoring three goals and contributing nine assists.

Georgy Melkadze – Spartak Moscow to FC Tosno – Loan

Since promotion, Tosno have strengthened their squad in preparation for their historic first season in Russia’s top flight and the most intriguing move is the signing of 20-year-old Russian U21 international midfielder Georgi Melkadze on loan from champions Spartak. Melkadze, who has appeared six times in Spartak’s first team over the last two seasons is highly thought of at Spartak and is one of the bright young hopes for the Russian national team in the upcoming years. He was part of the Russian under 19 international side that came runners up to Spain at the European Under 19 Championships in 2015 and has been a regular for Spartak’s reserve team, Spartak-2, over the last two seasons in the Russian second tier, scoring 19 goals in 55 games and helping them last season to an impressive 6th place.

Spartak do not believe Melkadze is ready for regular first team games with them just yet, however, he has outgrown the second tier and now needs a loan at a lower Premier League side to enable him to potentially become a regular at Spartak in the future. Tosno is therefore ideal and he will be looking to impress his parent club this upcoming season.

Kirill Panchenko – CSKA Moscow to Dinamo Moscow – €1.8 million

Dinamo have been busy in the transfer market since their return to the top flight, signing Bosnian defender Toni Sunjic from Stuttgart, Brazilian midfielder Wanderson from Krasnodar and Guinean midfielder Samba Sow from Turkish side Kayserispor. However, the best piece of business is 27-year-old striker Kirill Panchenko, who has turned his loan move from CSKA into a permanent one.

After impressing between 2010 and 2014 at Mordovia Saransk and Tom Tomsk, Panchenko won a move to CSKA. However, in two seasons, he failed to become a regular and was loaned out to Dinamo last summer.

This turned out to be an excellent move for Panchenko, who scored 24 goals in 34 games and became the top scorer in the second tier. Another string to Panchenko’s bow is his ability to provide as he also contributed six assists last season alongside his goals.

Like last season, Dinamo are dependent on Panchenko to score his fair share of goals if they are to be successful. His highest goal tally at Premier League level is the eight he plundered for Tom Tomsk in the 2013/2014 season before joining CSKA, and if he can score between 10-15 goals this upcoming season, Dinamo should ease themselves comfortably into mid-table in their return season to Russia’s top flight.

Author: Richard Pike

Wigan Athletic season ticket holder whose first memories of Russian football were TV highlights of Spartak’s 4-1 victory against Arsenal in the 2000-01 Champions League. Huge fan of the Russian Premier League, other mid-ranking European leagues and the English Football League

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