Lokomotiv have had one of the better windows in the league. The main event for them was keeping hold of wonderkid Aleksey Miranchuk. For the whole window, a saga of will he, won’t he rumours were in the press as Rubin Kazan sniffed around. In the end, Lokomotiv’s high asking price put off Rubin, who will try to pick up the youngster for free in the summer. However, Loko did lose club legend Aleksandr Samedov to city rivals Spartak, while clearing out some deadweight in Ezekiel Henty and Roman Shishkin. They did strengthen the squad however. Timofey Margasov signed on a free to replace Shishkin, while Solomon Kverkvelia joined on loan from Rubin in search of game time – a great addition to the centre half department. At the other end of the pitch, as previously mentioned, Krasnodar striker Ari signed on loan on deadline day, while the headline move was signing former Schalke winger and Peruvian international Jefferson Farfan. A player of his calibre raises the profile of the club and the league, even if he doesn’t end up playing well, but all Railroaders will be hoping he can make an impact.
There were raised eyebrows in England on their deadline day, as it appeared that QPR defender Steven Caulker would join the club on loan, with Loko even teasing it on social media. However Caulker later backed out of the move after consulting with family and friends.
Then on deadline day, a lovely move by the club was made when 43 year old assistant coachc Dmitry Loskov was registered on a six-month contract. Loskov currently has 399 first team appearances with Lokomotiv, and the club want to give him one more appearance so he can bid farewell to his side on 400 apps. A nice gesture but no more than that.
Orenburg floated under the radar this window. A few players left after failing to make an impact, Aleksandr Prudnikov, Yacouba Bamba and Artem Delkin among them. On the incomings, they signed three experienced players on loan – Maxim Bordachev, Maksim Grigoriev and Mikhail Kerzhakov from Tom Tomsk, Rostov and Zenit respectively, the latter a quality addition who could make the difference between RFPL and FNL football next season. Furthermore, they broke their transfer record to sign Slovakian striker Michal Duris from Viktoria Plzen, a worthwhile addition in their faltering strikeforce. They then went to Eastern Europe to sign Georgian stiker Elguja Lobjandize and experienced Belarussian midfielder Mikhail Sivakov from Zorya Lugansk.
Rostov are still riding on their European wave and despite this, didn’t do much in the window. A number of back up players went on loan; Saeid Ezatollahi (Anzhi), Moussa Doumbia (Arsenal) and the aforementioned Maksim Grigoriev (Orenburg). They did, however, add two players to their first team. Ukraine international Marko Devic signed after leaving Rubin at the end of his contract. A striker like Devic who excels at ball retention and being a penalty box goal scorer should thrive in Rostov’s set up, even just as a back up.
On deadline day, Berdyev brought in another former Rubin player, signing Pavel Mogilevets from Zenit for a rumoured €2m to help bolster their midfield, and in possible anticipation for the future departure of Christian Noboa. They did however, manage to keep all of their key players, despite rumoured interest in Noboa, Azmoun, Poloz and Dzhanaev, and for a team with ambitions such as theirs, this is the biggest positive of the whole window.
After spending heavily in summer, Rubin’s main task during winter was to deflate their heavy squad and cut the wage expenditure. Marko Devic was let go at the end of his contract, eventually joining Rostov. Chris Mavinga similarly was let go, having not played in Russia for over two years.
Next was to sort out the players who weren’t playing, who hadn’t adapted, or who were making squad selections difficult. Solomon Kverkvelia (Lokomotiv), Emil Bergstrom (Grasshoppers), Magomed Ozdoev (Terek Grozny) and Samu Garcia (Leganes) all departed on loan, largely due to having struggled for game time in the first half of the season, except for Garcia, who has played regularly but struggled to adapt to Russia after a €5m summer move, and so a loan back to Spain was an easy decision for him.
The curious case of wages for young Russians reared its head here, as two of Rubin’s brightest youth prospects left the club having rejected new contracts. Andrey Mironov and Aleksandr Kuznetsov reportedly had asked for wages on par with lower first team players, having trained with the first team regularly and gone on the summer training camps. The club rejected and they are now both free agents.
Despite not physically signing anyone, Rubin did seal one bit of business and that was to tie Yann M’Vila up to a new contract amidst rumours of a move back to England. There was the prolonged Miranchuk saga as previously mentioned, and the club were actively searching to sign a Russian full back, but settled on promoting youth player Nikita Mikhailov in case of emergency when the options dried up.
Of all the Russian sides, Spartak perhaps had the most eye catching window. As well as signing some of Russia’s finest young players, Spartak dipped into the foreign market on a number of occasions. The early deals were the double capture of goalkeeper Aleksandr Selikhov and defender Georgy Dzhikiya from Amkar, two of the most highly rated young Russian players.
There was a long saga with Lokomotiv which eventually ended with Spartak signing 32-year-old Russian international Aleksandr Samedov, 10 years after he left the club in search of first team chances. The big move was also drawn out, and therefore no surprise when it happened, and that was the signing of Brazilian striker Luiz Adriano from AC Milan. Despite Ze Luis’ fine form in the first half of the season, Massimio Carrera was determined to sign the forward, and with his experience in Ukraine with Shakhtar Donetsk, will no doubt thrive in the RFPL, a top signing at a rumoured €1m.
Then, with the window drawing to a close, a flurry of action as Spartak strengthened their youth team with a number of foreign talents – unprecedented in Russia. Zambian forward Fashion Sakala, Liberian forward Sylvanus Nimely, Portuguese forward Idrisa Sambu and Cameroon defender Audrey Zepatta all joined from various parts of the world and nominal fees. Having seen Kouassi Eboue make Krasnodar €3m in just 12 months, Russian clubs are looking to the African market in particular as a way to take players and turn a quick profit, and Spartak are clearly spearheading this movement.
Then, after days of rumours, 21-year-old left back Georgiy Tigiev signed from Anzhi on deadline day on a six month loan, again a statement of intent as Spartak move quickly to sign one of Russia’s top young players.
So much action on the incomings can almost make the outgoings irrelevant; by and large they were. Romulo returned to his native Brazil after a long injury lay off, defender Aleksandr Putsko joined Ufa, and young midfielders Aleksandr Zuev and Ayaz Guliev went on loan to Krylya and Anzhi respectively. A notable omission here is Quincy Promes. Holding on to their key man for the run in of the biggest season Spartak have had in over a decade is an amazing piece of news for the Moscow side. Whether they win the league or not, it’s highly expected that the sought after Dutchman will leave in the summer, but he could well be the key to their first league title in 16 years.
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Author: David Sansun
Arsenal and Rubin Kazan fan. Possibly too optimistic for Russian football which means I’m left disappointed a lot.