Terek had perhaps one of the quietest windows in the whole league. However, they did some business, and the first move raised eyebrows everywhere, as they struck early to sign Kosovan winger Bernard Berisha from Anzhi. While it was thought he would be leaving Anzhi in the window, many, including us at RFN, think very highly of Berisha, and to see Terek seal his signing was a huge shock, as a move to one of the larger sides would not have been a surprise considering his clear talent. A real coup for the Chechen side.
The next two moves saw one in, one out. Brazilian midfielder Adilson left to return to his native country, and he was replaced by Magomed Ozdoev on loan from Rubin Kazan. Ozdoev had underperformed when selected this season by Rubin, and therefore experienced a lack of game time. While Javi Gracia wanted the midfielder to stay, he caved to his wishes eventually, and allowed the 24-year-old a chance to play for his hometown club on loan.
Finally, Sergey Bryzgalov joined Anzhi on a free transfer, and he was replaced by Slovakian international Norbert Gyomber, who joins on loan from Italian side Roma. Having impressed at Europ 2016, this is again quite a coup, and Terek look very strong as they compete for a European spot this spring.
Tom’s window can only be described as a disaster. Due to unpaid wages of up to five months, ¾ of the first team squad departed, including key men Erik Bicfalvi (Ural) and Aleksandr Zhirov (Krasnodar). Subsequently, the club was banned from signing any players, and they have had to promoted youth team players to fill in the squad. This will be a long second half of the season, and relegation is a certaintny.
Ufa had to rebuild from the top down, having lost their manager Viktor Goncharenko to CSKA. With him went key defender Viktor Vasin, who was only on loan to Ufa in the first place. Ufa quickly moved to hire Sergey Semak as their new manager, and the former Zenit coach made some quick changes. Brazilians Marcinho and Diego Carlos were allowed to leave having not made an impact in over year. Goalkeeper Andrey Lunev, who only made ten first team appearances for Ufa, was then sold to Zenit St Petersburg for around €4m, but was later replaced by a goalkeeper of arguably a greater level in Aleksandr Belenov from Anzhi on a free transfer. Ivan Paurevic was signed back from Huddersfield, six months after joining the Championship side, and centre backs Aleksandr Putsko and Catalin Carp signed from Spartak Moscow and Viitorul respectively to fill the void left by Vasin. Finally, Ufa completed somewhat of a coup, signing experienced Slovenian defender Bojan Jokic on a free transfer after he was let go by Villarreal.
Overall, they’ve done well to fill the gaps left by departures, and perhaps upgraded the squad.
Ural had one huge loss in this transfer window, as Pablo Fontanello departed the club at the end of his contract. The Argentine had been fantastic for the Siberian’s for over a year, so getting a centre half to replace him was a key bit of business.
Not only that, but Ural made some decent transfers on paper. Slovenian international Gregor Balazic joined from Partizan Belgrade as a replacement for Fontanello, before young Georgian Jemal Tabidze reinforced the back line, joining on loan from AA Gent. Ural then performed their normal dip into the FNL, picking up three young talents in Vladimir Ilyin (Kuban), Nikita Glushkov (Sibir) and Aleksandr Lomakin (Yenisey). That wasn’t enough for Ural, and the large squad got even larger, with Bulgarian winger Nikolay Dimitrov joining from head coach Aleksandr Tarkhanov’s former side Slavia Sofia, and Edgar Manucharyan returning to the club after a failed six month spell in Thailand.
However the big bit of business is the addition of Erik Bicfalvi after he left struggling Tom. He had been a shining light in the first half of the season for Tom, and has made an instant impact for Ural, scoring on his full debut in the cup, and his league debut a few days later. The Romanian will be hot property in the summer if he keeps it up.
The only real downside to their window is that they have kept a very large squad, with only Fontanello and the talented young striker Mohamed Konate departing during the window, and this could cause selection and morale issues as the season goes on.
Zenit St. Petersburg
Big guns Zenit were one of the more active teams in the transfer window. The big and expected blow was the loss of Axel Witsel, the destination was the only question, and eventually he ended up, going to China to join Tianjin Quanjain. This left a gaping hole in the midfield, and Zenit filled it quickly with Brazilain midfidler Hernani.
Zenit then added to all aspects of their squad. Ibragim Tsallagov and Yoann Mollo joined from Krylya Sovetov, and Andrey Lunev was brought in to rectify the goalkeeping issues, after Yuri Lodygin put in a number of suspect performances. However the big deal for Zenit was bringing Branislav Ivanovic back to Russia after a long spell in England with Chelsea.
On paper, Zenith have theoretically strengthened the squad, but whether the players they have added are “Zenit calibre” is a question yet to be answered, with many questioning whether Mollo, Tsallagov and Lunev are really the kind of players a team like Zenit should be signing. Hernani alaso has been called into doubt. His first matches as a Zenit player in the Europa League caused many to doubt whether he is the right player to replace Witsel, but perhaps time is what he needs.
Author: David Sansun
Arsenal and Rubin Kazan fan. Possibly too optimistic for Russian football which means I’m left disappointed a lot.