Pavel Pogrebnyak – A Constant Reminder of Dinamo’s Chaos

The hype was substantial when Pavel Pogrebnyak returned to the Russian Football Premier League (RFPL) prior to the 2015/2016 season after six years abroad in Germany and England. The former UEFA Cup winner and Zenit St. Petersburg top scorer signed a three-year contract with big spending Dinamo Moscow, which made him one of the best-paid players in the country. However, Pogrebnyak’s stint at Dinamo  has far from lived up to the expectations, and his contract has caused Dinamo  a headache ever since it was signed.

 

Embarrasments on and off the pitch

Pogrebnyak returned to Russia with experience from both the Bundesliga and the English Premier League, and was expected to spearhead Dinamo’s pursuit of the Russian championship. However, shortly after he arrived the club was plunged into a state of chaos as it was kicked out of the Europa League for breaching UEFA’s Financial Fair Play regulations. This started a chain of reactions that affected the club immensely, as it had to sell the majority of the leading players, while also eventually being forced through an ownership change.

Nevertheless, Pogrebnyak was one of few stars to stay at the club, and due to the trouble his vast experience made him an obvious rallying point for the young and inexperienced squad.

Pogrebnyak however didn’t step up, and he didn’t take any responsibility as an experienced professional. Instead, in November 2015 just a couple of months after he joined the club, he was arrested for drunk driving. Although he tried to explain his actions with the fact that England had a higher allowed alcohol limit, he lost his drivers licence, something that made his wife, Mariya, joke with her being his new personal chauffeur.

At the end of the season, Pogrebnyak had just made 16 appearances and scored a single goal as Dinamo were relegated for the first time in club history. Hardly the return the club expected for the €2-2.5 million they are reportedly paying the striker annually.

The following season, when Dinamo were trying to claw their way back to the top flight, Pogrebnyak made a measly eight appearances. Starting just two games, Pogrebnyak saw only 169 minutes Football National League football without scoring, and once again his spot in the headlines was secured by events off the pitch.

Pogrebnyak was in open battle with the club, as it wasn’t meeting its part of the contract agreement. The debt to Pogrebnyak kept growing until the Russian Football Union in December 2016 banned the club from registering new players. It wasn’t until the beginning of this spring that the debt was finally erradicated, and Pogrebnyak was reinstated to the squad. By this time, Dinamo had practically already booked their ticket back to the Premier League after a truly convincing campaign led by the brilliance of Kiril Panchenko.

 

Dragging the club down

Although he has made the matchday squad seven times this season, Pogrebnyak is yet to make his season debut. Despite this, head of the Dinamo Sports Society – which owns Dinamo Moscow – Vladimir Strzhalkovsky, recently told Sport-Express he still hopes Pogrebnyak will return to his best form at the club, and become a leader.

However, Strzhalkovsky also explained that the club is also looking into some of the deals made by the previous management, which includes the signing of Pogrebnyak. He revealed that the club had tried to get rid of Pogrebnyak to remove his salary, but his contract practically made this impossible as long as he shows up for practice and does his job.

While it would be unfair to blame Pogrebnyak for securing himself a great contract, there’s little doubt that he has had a highly negative impact on Dinamo’s economy.

Last fall, the club’s debt reached a staggering €191 million, and part of the reason for that was the club’s transfer strategy. Other than Pogrebnyak, the club also paid millions for domestic and foreign stars in their purist of glory. However, the return from these investments was truly horrible. For example, Dinamo spend €15 million on Yuri Zhirkov only to sell him to Zenit for €640,000 a few years later, €21 million on Igor Denisov who left on a free transfer, and they even paid Denisov €200,000 each month while he played on loan at Lokomotiv Moscow last season.

Pogrebnyak will almost certainly leave Dinamo when his contract runs out at the end of the season, but until then, he’ll continue to be a major financial restraint for the club, and a constant reminder of past mistakes for the fans.

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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