Manolas and Driussi – Zenit Closing in on Significant Transfers

Zenit's Javi Garcia during a game against Rubin Kazan.. Photo: Вячеслав Евдокимов

Zenit’s Javi Garcia during a game against Rubin Kazan. Photo: Вячеслав Евдокимов

Roberto Mancini has now been Zenit St. Petersburg’s head coach for a few weeks, and he is starting to leave a mark on the squad. Over the previous weeks, the Blue-White-Sky Blues have already closed the signings of midfielder Christian Noboa and wingback Denis Terentiev from FC Rostov as well as midfielder Daler Kuzyaev from Akhmat Grozny.

Although good players in the Russian Football Premier League, these transfers were, perhaps with the exception of Noboa who isone of the best midfielders in the league, all slightly underwhelming, but it seems that Zenit are about to make up for it now.

Yesterday, Goal.com revealed that Greek international of AS Roma Kostas Manolas had decided to join Mancini at Zenit. The Blue-White-Sky Blues have been linked with Manolas almost all summer, and now it finally seems that the transfer saga is about to end.

Central defence has been Zenit’s Achilles heel for quite some time now, and with Nicolas Lombaerts having already left the club, it was certain that Mancini would have to sign at least one new player in the position.

Further up the pitch, Zenit are about to complete the signing of 21-year-old Sebastian Driussi from River Plate. The Argentinean striker scored 17 goals in the previous season, the second highest of all players in the league. He is described as a quick, dynamic and versatile forward, who can also be used as a second striker or winger.

The transfer has already been confirmed by River head coach Manuel Gallardo. “Zenit made an offer he couldn’t refuse,” he told Clarin. “I spoke with Driussi, and he is determined to join the Russian club.”

To get Driussi, Zenit are believed to send around €21 million to River Plate, and the hope seems to be that he can fill the void left by Hulk, who is yet to be properly replaced.

Since Mancini was hired, and Sergey Fursenko became general director of the club, Zenit’s transfer policy has changed visibly, and the possible signings of Driussi and Manolas fits perfectly with the policy Fursenko recently explained in an interview with Zenit’s official website.

“We cannot do without foreign players,” he said, “But we should have more of our own players, this is an important principle. You cannot buy a foreign player who is weaker than the strongest of our own in Russian football.”

Fursenko’s statement can easily be interpreted as a criticism of his predecessor and Mircea Lucescu, who signed a number of foreign players last season who failed to make an impact, including the likes of Robert Mak, Yohan Mollo and Hernani.

The summer has only just begun, but Zenit and Mancini have already been quite busy, and judging by the rumours, that’ll continue to be the case.

Toke Møller Theilade

Author: Toke Møller Theilade

Brøndby supporter, groundhopper and more importantly Editor-in-Chief at Russianfootballnews.com. As a hopeless romantic, I still believe Fyodor Smolov and Viktoria Lopyreva has a future together.

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