Javi Gracia at Rubin Kazan – What Went Wrong?

Last week, Rubin Kazan sacked Spanish head coach Javi Gracia, before replacing him with their legendary manager from 2001-2013, Kurban Berdyev, who recently enjoyed two-and-a-half hugely successful seasons at FC Rostov. Gracia’s appointment last summer as Rubin’s first foreign coach generated a lot of excitement. His reputation of being a bright young coach preceded him, and he had pulled off a series of impressive results with former side Malaga. He gained positive marks when he arrived … [Read more...]

Ones To Watch – Aleksandr Golovin

Biography Name: Aleksandr Golovin DOB/Age: 30/05/1996 – 21 years old Club: CSKA Moscow Position: Central midfielder Nationality: Russia Career To Date When Aleksandr Golovin made his debut for the Russian national team in July 2015, he had never started a league game for his club side CSKA Moscow. His call up raised eyebrows in Russia. Why did he deserve a call up the national team aged 19 and with just 121 senior minutes to his name? Just 15 minutes after coming on as a sub in the … [Read more...]

Evaluating the performance of Rubin’s €40m summer signings

Last summer Rubin Kazan spent €40m, according to Transfermarkt, on a whole host of big name signings from Europe, but it was to no avail as under the management of Spaniard Javi Gracia, Rubin struggled to finish in 9th place, with many of their signings -  though not all of them - failing to make an impact during the season. So just how well spent was that €40m? Alex Song - Free transfer from FC Barcelona Perhaps the most high profile of all the players who joined, with experience at … [Read more...]

Does Russian Football Make Average Foreigners Look Good?

When Zenit St. Petersburg signed Yoann Mollo from Krylia Sovetov earlier this year, both Zenit fans and observers from Mollo's home nation France raised their eyebrows. The fans of Zenit thought that Mollo was not at the level of their club, only shining at Krylia as he was the focal point in their counter attacking style of play, and therefore took the lead in most of their attacking play. French observers, fans of his former club Saint Etienne, for example, struggled to believe that a player … [Read more...]

Nikita Medvedev – Record Breaker

On the 1st of November 2015, Nikita Medvedev played his final game for his hometown club, Zenit-Izhevsk, as they triumphed 2-0 in the PFL (the 3rd tier of Russian football) against Nosta Novotroitsk. In the 18 months since he signed for his new side FC Rostov, Medvedev has made his league, cup and European debut, played against the three biggest sides in Russia, Sparta Prague and Manchester United, and broken the biggest goalkeeping record in Russian football. Excluding a cup defeat to Dinamo … [Read more...]

Ones To Watch – Abdoul Gafar

Biography Name: Abdoul Gafar Sirima (Gafar) DOB/Age: 30/12/1998 - 18 years old Club: Baltika Kaliningrad Positions: Striker Nationality: Burkina Faso Career to Date A common trend nowadays in Russia is for young players from Africa to appear on trial. Spartak and CSKA Moscow have taken a number of Nigerians and Ghanaians in 2016, though none were signed, while Tom Tomsk took two Libyans on trial. So, when CSKA revealed they had a triallist simply named “Jafar”, it was no real surprise. … [Read more...]

Russian Clubs are Once Again Pursuing African Talents

Russian Football Premier League sides have, on occasion, been known to venture into Africa and sign players directly from the continent, something which many other top flight leagues will not risk due to their unproven ability to adapt to a new league and nation. Signing young and unproven players from Africa gives the club the opportunity to get new players at low prices and low wages, meaning the upside is huge if they suceed and the risk is small. When signing 18-year-old Ivorian striker … [Read more...]

Maxime Lestienne and Alex Song Face Disciplinary Action in Kazan

The leading players from Rubin Kazan are prepared to send their expensive newcomers to the reserve team. The patience of the leaders is over. After the first defeat of 2017 away to Ural, the situation in Rubin has heated up. The clubs veteran leaders, Sergey Ryzhikov, Gokdeniz Karadeniz and Oleg Kuzmin on Wednesday arranged a squad meeting arranged to discuss the behaviour of Maxime Lestienne and Alex Song. The situation heated up so much, that manager Javi Gracia had to cancel morning … [Read more...]

Aleksandr Hleb and the Second Chance in Samara

Former Belarus international Aleksandr Hleb made the news recently as he was announced as a new signing at Krylia Sovetov Samara. Now 35-years-old, this is his second spell at the club, having joined them in 2012 following his release from a disastrous spell at Barcelona. With an illustrious European career behind him, with stints at Stuttgart, Barcelona, Wolfsburg and Birmingham, Hleb is most fondly remembered for a three year spell with Premier League giants Arsenal. Joining in 2005 from … [Read more...]

RFPL Winter Transfer Window – Team by Team Summary Part 3

Terek Grozny Terek had perhaps one of the quietest windows in the whole league. However, they did some business, and the first move raised eyebrows everywhere, as they struck early to sign Kosovan winger Bernard Berisha from Anzhi. While it was thought he would be leaving Anzhi in the window, many, including us at RFN, think very highly of Berisha, and to see Terek seal his signing was a huge shock, as a move to one of the larger sides would not have been a surprise considering his clear … [Read more...]