Ones To Watch – Ivan Ignatiev


Name: Ivan Ignatiev
DOB/Age: 06/01/1999 – 18 years old
Club: FC Krasnodar
Position: Striker
Nationality: Russia


Career So Far

A native of the Russian province of Krasnoyarsk, Ivan Ignatiev joined the flourishing Krasnodar academy in 2012 as a 13-year-old. As he progressed, Ignatiev started to be recognised by his country, and made his debut for Russia U15 and U16 just two years later. At every level, Ignatiev scored goals. But it was U18 level for his country where he really began to flourish as a 17-year-old, scoring 13 goals in 13 caps, including all four (a poker) against the Czech Republic in 2017, in what would be his penultimate cap at this level. His combined club and international form earned him call-ups for Russia U19 and U21.

While Ignatiev was hitting the ground running at U17 level for Russia in 2015, he had just made his breakthrough for Krasnodar’s reserve team. His debut season at reserve level saw him feature 19 times, in and out of the squad and rotating between starting and being a substitute, scoring four goals. It was the 2016/17 season where he really made his breakthrough for his club, however. In this season he featured 23 times, all bar one as a starter, and scored 21 goals, including another poker in the final game of the season.

Ivan Ignatiev in action for Krasnodar against Akhmat Grozny. Photo:

Ignatiev took that form with him into the 2017/18 season. Having failed to score on the opening day against Rubin, he then went on to record yet another poker and a hat-trick in his next two matches. While this was happening at reserve level, Krasnodar was suffering somewhat of an injury crisis at senior level, with star striker Fedor Smolov among the absentees. His form, combined with this, saw a senior debut handed to Ignatiev in the Europa League away at Lyngby. The diminutive forward had a quiet 45 minutes before being withdrawn at half-time. It’s worth noting perhaps that this match occurred in between his poker and hat-trick for the reserves.

Two weeks later, Ignatiev was yet again called upon by the first team as Krasnodar faced Akhmat Grozny in the league. Ignatiev made his league debut and played the full 90 minutes, scoring a dramatic injury-time winner as Krasnodar sealed a 3-2 win in difficult territory down in Chechnya. A week later, Ignatiev was again given a start in the Europa League, scoring as Krasnodar once again won 3-2, this time against Red Star Belgrade. However, he was withdrawn for Fedor Smolov after 66 minutes, who was finally fit again.

Unfortunately for him, Smolov’s return meant he would only get one more run out for the first team in the Autumn part of the season, before being reduced to continuing to impress at reserve level. And that is what he has done.

So far this season, Ignatiev has 14 goals in 12 matches in the RFPL reserve league. Krasnodar, despite not qualifying for the Europa League, was able to participate in the UEFA Youth League, and Ignatiev has taken European competition by the horns, scoring a remarkable 10 goals in three matches, including yet another poker and a five-goal haul in his last two matches against Kairat and Honved.

All told, in all competitions for club and country since 8th July 2016 – the start of the 2016/17 season – Ignatiev has appeared in 58 matches for Krasnodar reserves (domestic & Europe), Krasnodar’s senior side and Russia’s U18, U19 and U21 side, scoring a remarkable 61 goals, and the run looks to only continue.



Standing at just 5’10, Ignatiev is by no means a handful for defenders. However, his strength’s are more than likely to cause opposing defenders a problem. Ignatiev’s role in the Krasnodar youth teams was clear, he was to take advantage of poor opposition positioning, something which is rife at youth level. As a result, he was constantly hovering on the shoulder of the last defender. The tremendous academy in Krasnodar means there are a plethora of talented players behind him in midfield able to play the killer pass. Combining this with his pace, he’s able to find himself one-on-one with the keeper regularly, and has the composure and finishing ability with both feet to find the back of the net on a regular basis.

READ MORE: Krasnodar’s Youth Academy Bearing Its First Fruits

Ignatiev is also a workhorse, he chases down loose balls, hassles defenders, and thanks to his awareness, seems to always be in the right place to capitalise on a backpass (on seven occasions in the last year), tap in a cross or find a team-mate. A large amount of his goals come from the penalty spot, he is the designated taker and in a team as confident as Krasnodar in attack, they win a lot of penalties, with around a dozen of his 61 goals coming from the spot.



Ignatiev possesses all the characteristics to be a top forward, but he is not a complete forward by any means, more of a pace and positioning specialist. His small build and lack of height mean his aerial ability is not great, but for a side like Krasnodar who plays the ball along the floor or into the spaces behind the defence, it’s not a great problem.

While Ignatiev has been given his first taste of senior football this season, he still only has five appearances for the first team, and with Fedor Smolov still at the club, the chance of him getting another breakthrough any time soon will rely on Smolov picking up an injury, or Krasnodar selling their star striker. A shame considering Ignatiev’s obvious talent, but with Krasnodar possessing a plethora of senior attacking options, it does make some sense.


What’s Next?

Ignatiev is still just 18-years-old. At such a young age, and now with some first-team football and U21 experience under his belt, it’s important that he can keep up his good form. With only a Smolov injury standing in his way of a first-team opportunity, it’s perhaps worth staying at Krasnodar and utilising the world-class facilities they possess to further his progression. Should Smolov choose to leave Krasnodar next summer, Ignatiev could have the opportunity at a proper go at senior level. Meanwhile, Krasnodar-2 are motoring along well in the PFL, and should they secure promotion to the FNL, Ignatiev will have a good platform to gain some regular playing time against professional sides with players of all ages. Certainly, his future over the next year or two should be at Krasnodar. If at the age of 20 he is not involved with the first team, he should look to move away on loan. Fellow Krasnodar academy graduate Nikolay Komlichenko has enjoyed two fruitful loan spells in the top tier of Czech football, and a similar move could benefit Ignatiev greatly.

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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