Ones To Watch – Fedor Chalov

Photo: Дмитрий Голубович

Aleksandr Golovin. Photo: Дмитрий Голубович

Biography
Name: Fedor Chalov
D.O.B/Age: 10th April 1998/19 years old
Club: CKSA Moscow
Positions: Striker
Nationality: Russia

Career To Date

Fedor Chalov has had a whirlwind last nine months, which has seen him go from an unknown teenager, to one of Russia’s biggest hopes for the future. Having not done much at U21 level for CSKA, Chalov caught the attention of the senior coaches with a string of good performances in the UEFA Youth League, grabbing two assists at home against Tottenham in a 3-2 win, before scoring and assisting in the next game against Monaco. However, it was the reverse fixture in November, away at Monaco, which put him on the map, as he scored four goals in a 5-0 win.
Just four days later, Chalov made his first team debut, getting 15 minutes off the bench in a league game against Amkar Perm. Less than a month later, Chalov grabbed his first senior goal and assist in the same game, at home against Ural which CSKA won 4-0 – the last game before the winter break.

Over the winter break, CSKA changed managers and also swapped some of their playing staff. Leonid Slutskiy departed after three league titles, and was replaced by his former assistant, and then manager of FC Ufa, Viktor Goncharenko. He came with promise and a knack for playing young players at his former clubs Ural and Ufa, a big positive for Chalov.

Goncharenko immediately showed his intent, swapping from a 4-2-3-1 to a 3-5-2, allowing for two forwards to play at once, and during the winter training camps, Chalov and a number of other reserve team players featured plenty of times, with Chalov scoring on three occasions.

After the winter break, Chalov featured in all but three of the league games which CSKA played, starting the last four games, and reached a total five goals in the RFPL. The spring of 2017 also saw Chalov make his debut for Russia’s U21 squad, having been a regular at all levels up until this point. Chalov went on to score on his debut, and currently has two goals in four caps for the U21 side.

His rich vein of form towards the end of the season, with four goals in his last five appearances, saw him tipped to be a wildcard inclusion in Russia’s squad for the Confederations Cup, but it was not meant to be, and experience was chosen over him, giving him a full pre-season with CSKA.

Strengths

Chalov is the classic central poacher. He plays up front and won’t stray far from the central position, occasionally dropping deep but rarely venturing wide. Standing 180 cm, he’s not small, but he’s not tall either, not cutting a big figure in the opposition half. Thanks to this, Chalov has a good share of pace and strength. He is not lightning fast, and most defenders will feel comfortable enough in a foot race, but he will chase lost causes, and put pressure on whenever he can, surprising defenders in situations where most would imagine they had plenty of time.

His positioning as a result is top notch, seeming to be in the right place more often than not to meet a cross, intercept a pass or run onto a throughball. Once he picks up the ball, he is very comfortable with both feet, and like his team-mate Aleksandr Golovin, he is an excellent dribbler of the ball in tight situations.

His ability with both feet translates from dribbling to finishing, and he has scored goals with both feet at all levels, though he is naturally right footed, which is clear from the many penalties he has scored at youth level using his right foot.

One thing which really stands out is his first touch. On a number of occasions while watching Chalov, he has taken down long, but mainly high balls with expert aplomb, while as an attack minded player, his first thought when receiving the ball to feet is to turn and head goal wards.

Weaknesses

The biggest let down at this point seems to be his aerial game. Chalov doesn’t seem to be keen in putting himself about in the box, and although he did bag a header last season, it was a free header into an open goal, with defenders and goalkeeper committed to the cross. When actually needing to go up for a ball, he seems reluctant, or perhaps just not confident enough, which seems strange considering his relative height and physical ability.

What’s next?

Chalov has a huge season ahead of him. With just Aaron Olanare and Vitinho as senior strikers to challenge him for a spot in the first team, and fellow youngster Timur Zhamaletdinov waiting in the wings, unless CSKA go out and buy a striker before the end of the transfer window, Chalov is set to receive a lot of first team football, including Champions League football, in the build up to the 2018 World Cup in his home nation.

Aged just 19, if he can continue his form from the tail end of last season, then he will surely be in contention to sneak a late spot in Stanislav Cherchesov’s squad for the World Cup, or at very least, his debut in one of the friendlies Russia will play in the build up to it.

The early signs are good, as he started in pre-season this weekend, scoring a fine goal against Sturm Graz, showing that the confidence shown in him by Goncharenko is still there, and that he seems to still be right on form. This is a unique situation for Chalov, with Russia’s strike force outside of Smolov and Dzyuba really up for grabs depending on form, with Dmitry Poloz, Aleksandr Bukharov and Maksim Kanunnikov at risk of being dropped if the goals dry up, and with limited options elsewhere among the Russian forwards – perhaps Vladimir Ilyin, who also hit some fine form last season – the door is wide open for Chalov to burst his way in to the World Cup.

Author: David Sansun

Arsenal and Rubin Kazan fan. Possibly too optimistic for Russian football which means I’m left disappointed a lot.

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