The Russian transfer window closed at the end of February, and as we have finally gathered the full overview over a long and hectic winter, it is time to evaluate how the 16 Russian Football Premier League clubs did in the transfer market. In the span of three articles, which will be published in the following days, we’ll evaluate all the clubs and grade their dealings.
Amkar started the window in the worst possible fashion, losing Russian prospects Aleksandr Selikhov and Georgy Dzhikiya to Spartak Moscow before 2016 had even finished. As a club struggling with their finances, most of the €5m went back into the club, rather than towards the squad. Consequently, Dzhikiya was not replaced, and they plumped to sign 21-year-old Denis Vambolt from Baltika Kaliningrad to replace Selikhov in goal, as they continue their policy of signing young players to eventually sell on. This policy reared its head on the final day, as they signed promising striker Aleksey Gasilin from Zenit on a three-and-a-half-year deal. If he even ends up as promising as someone like Maksim Kanunnikov, they could still end up making another couple of million euros in the future, so that seems like a good deal on paper.
In order to effectively describe Anzhi’s transfer window, imagine you own a nice, relatively new VW Golf. Now imagine trading that in and buying a 1999 VW Lupo. That’s basically what Anzhi did this winter. Almost all the squad left, other than a number of the young players, including a the majority of their foreign stars such as Gabriel Obertan and Yannick Boli, the latter who seemingly joined Al Ain (UAE), only for Anzhi to demand more money. Subsequently the transfer failed, and Boli eventually found his way to the Chinese 2nd division and Dalian Yifang.
Having stated that they would like to build a strong Dagestani squad, Anzhi surprised by signing a couple of foreigners and a plethora of players from all over Russia, was well as a few Dagestanis such as Shamil Asildarov and Kamil Agalarov. The most notable signings of their final total of 25, were the loan signing of talented Iranian youngster Saeid Ezatollahi from Rostov and Arsen Khubulov on a free from Kuban Krasnodar.
Whether the plethora of new players will gel enough to keep them up is another question, but undoubtedly, the quality and experience is there.
On paper, Arsenal had one of the most impressive transfer windows, signing a number of international players from around the world. Bulgarian internationals Ivan Ivanov and Mikhail Aleksandrov, Romanian international Alexandru Bourceanu, Zambian international Stoppila Sunzu and Malian international Moussa Doumbia all joined the Tula-based side, as well as experienced Russians Vladimir Gabulov and Kirill Kombarov.
While Arsenal strengthened, they did a good job of clearing out the deadwood from their squad, with a number of departures of backup players, as well as the notable departure of Emmanuel Frimpong, who after having his contract mutually terminated, joined Swedish side Eskilstuna. The added experience should stand them in good stead in their efforts to survive the drop.
After changing their manager from Leonid Slutsky to Viktor Goncharenko, squad changes were inevitable. Goncharenko brought back Viktor Vasin from Ufa, where he had initially taken him on loan last summer. He also made radical changes to CSKA’s strikeforce, getting rid of Lacina Traore and Carlos Strandberg, while recalling Vitinho from his loan in Brazil, and signing Aaron Olanare on a permanent deal, after his successful loan in Moscow was cut short by injury last season.
A number of Goncharenko’s most notable changes were internal, as youngsters Fyodor Chalov, Astemir Gordyushenko and Timur Zhamaletdinov featured heavily in the winter training camps, with all impressing. The future looks bright in Moscow.
Krasnodar’s transfer window started poorly and didn’t really improve as it went on. They lost key midfielder Odil Akhmedov very early on in the window to China, and rising star Kouassi Eboue to Celtic later that month. To compensate, they also sealed the early signing of Ecuadorian left back Cristian Ramírez from Ferencvaros, ending their four year streak of using right-footed left backs. They also recalled academy graduates Ilya Zhigulev and Nikolay Komlichenko from their loan spells aborad, and immediately promoted both to the first team. Both youngsters featured and scored during a succesful winter break.
The best was yet to come though, as Viktor Claesson signed from Swedish side Elfsborg, making an instant impact with three goals in his first three games. Krasnodar then effectively swapped two players on loan, signing Russian veteran Roman Shishkin from Lokomotiv Moscow, while loaning out Brazilian striker Ari on deadline day to the same club.
An under-the-radar move was adding Aleksandr Zhirov to the books after he left Tom Tomsk. A promising centre half, he has gone straight on loan to Anzhi before joining Krasnodar’s first team in the summer. However, failing to adequately replace Eboue and Akhmedov with only Zhigulev could be a mistake in the race for Europe, and a capitulation versus Ural in the cup perhaps indicates what an error that was.
Krylya Sovetov Samara
Krylya Sovetov were dealt an early blow in the transfer window as Zenit St. Petersburg sealed a double swoop for Yoann Mollo and Ibragim Tsallagov for around €3m. In addition, they sent striker Jerry Mbakogu back to Italy after a drab loan spell, leaving gaps in all areas of the pitch. Replacing them didn’t go quite so well. Georgy Zotov and Ali Gadzhibekov came in to bolster the defence, though neither are natural right backs.
On the attacking midfield front, former Arsenal and Barcelona stalwart Aleksandr Hleb signed on a free transfer, and Aleksandr Zuev joined on loan from Spartak, while youngster Pavel Kudryashov signed from Tom Tomsk to boost the attack. One other player was added; Serbian defensive midfielder Srdjan Mijailovic joined from Turkish side Kayserispor. Krylya will be hoping that Zuev can be the man to replace Mollo, but someone as influential as the Frenchman will be hard to follow, and the 20 year old is very inexperienced.
Author: David Sansun
Arsenal and Rubin Kazan fan. Possibly too optimistic for Russian football which means I’m left disappointed a lot.