Pavel (@russianpotter) – Nizhny Novgorod-based young journalist and Spartak supporter, Volga attendee
Xavier (@AxeMurderer60) – French Russian football fan and CSKA supporter
Andy (@AndyShenk) – Moscow based writer and Russian language translator, Andy supports Anzhi
John (@JohnSager) – Russian Football follower, Zenit supporter, California resident
PAVEL: I believe that Ryblovlev wants to make Monaco a big brand in Russia. Buying a player from RPL is one of the best moves to do it. However, I don’t think Zenit is going to sell Hulk. He hasn’t shown everything he can do while at Zenit. And he has only spent a year in St. Petersburg. Shirokov looks a better man, but still no guarantee Zenit would want him to go. I’d buy Arshavin, as he is still a brand here, and Kokorin, as he will become a brand soon, but who asks me?
MANUEL: Despite the Russian ownership of Monaco, I cannot see any Russian player going there. Shirokov will most likely stay in Russia, most likely even at Zenit. The Hulk rumours to Monaco become hotter and hotter as we speak. Is a deal likely? I would say so especially since the relationship between the player and Luciano Spalletti seem to have broken down. I mentioned a few ago that one of the two will have to leave the club, and if Monaco is prepared to pay the rumoured €45 million for Hulk I can see Zenit selling the player. Chelsea is also rumoured to pay around €40 million for Hulk. In both scenarios Zenit would actually make a profit and would solve the problem in the dressing room.
XAVIER: A lot of these rumors came from not very reliable French newspapers, they sold dream and fantasy like they did in the past with PSG. Monaco is of course prospecting for good players, but I don’t believe Hulk or Shirokov will be their next transfers.
ANDY: Of Hulk and Shirokov, I think the Russian is more likely to go to Monaco, given his stated interest in leaving and simmering conflict with the fans. That, plus Monaco are one of the few foreign clubs that might be willing to match his Zenit wages. Zenit, in my opinion, would be crazy to let Hulk go, especially for less than they signed him, with a huge Champions League campaign looming. Hulk and Zenit could prove all the critics wrong with a big Champions League run this season and I don’t think they’re going to blow up that opportunity.
In the end, I don’t think either will go to Monaco and I don’t expect any other Russian stars to, either. Perhaps Kokorin or Dzagoev in a few years, but for now I think that Monaco will stay out of Russia.
JOHN: The transfer prices suggested for Shirokov were much too high for a player his age, but I genuinely believe Monaco have the resources and desire for a Russian player to go to the squad. If it’s a toy, I expect Monaco to go all out! Especially if they are already in trouble for FFP.
PAVEL: They don’t need to improve. Their summer transfers last year were all outstanding. They need a central defender and a midfielder, that’s all. It’s not hard to find two players with target to put them in starting 11 a year later.
MANUEL: CSKA Moscow will be competing in the Champions League next season. Russian clubs have always struggled in that competition. There are many reasons for that one is the Russian winter, and the fact that Russian clubs (despite switching the schedule) are still in their winter break when the Champions League returns for the round of 16 matches. Another reason is the lack of depth in many Russian teams. Zenit tried to solve that problem by bringing in Hulk and Witsel, as we know now this backfired. But I can see CSKA making some transfers in order to strengthen the squad, providing more depth.
XAVIER: CSKA will have to replace Keisuke Honda, and that will be no easy at all. In my opinion a player like Panchenko have to be a priority, he is young and will have a pretty good potential I guess. But Panchenko, it will be too soon to play the Champions League, they have to find a player who have the same quality of Honda, or put back Dzagoev behind the Striker as an Attacking Midfielder and focus on a great winger.
There is also the possibility to move on a 4-4-2 formation with Dzagoev and Tosic on the sides and Vagner Love + Seydou Doumbia up front.
ANDY: With Honda on the way out, they could always use another attacking midfielder. Also, while Georgi Schennikov is still young and will doubtless improve, CSKA may want more depth at left back. He’s certainly the weak link in the back line, though I really hope that he can make himself into a top defender and contend for a spot on the Russian national team.
JOHN: I think CSKA need to sign another striker to add depth at that position in light of injuries. I also think they need to sign another CB for the future. They have a good young core, and just need to make a few small additions. The core of the team should stay intact, and I think it will.
PAVEL: Lokomotiv. They are going to lose Glushakov, rumors are departing Torbinskiy and Shishkin to Ural, and one of the strikers is likely to leave the team too. They have got lots of stuff to sort this summer.
MANUEL: For me the club that needs to make the biggest changes is Dinamo Moscow. Here again the club needs to introduce some more depth to the squad. Also bringing in leadership would also be helpful. Kokorin will grow into a bigger leadership role with the club, but he will need support. Voronin is likely to stay with the club this season. But Voronin epic fail at Duesseldorf shows that he might no longer be able to compete at the top level. Therefore I think that Dinamo will purchase another striker.
In the likely case that Hulk is going to leave, Zenit will also be very busy during the transfer window. I expect several signings in defence and also up front.
XAVIER: Anzhi have to build a better defense if they want to move on Champions League Next Season. Spartak already start to find players to improve the team like Tino Costa and also Glushakov who is linked to the club for a couple of weeks.
But I think that the club who has the most work to do on the transfer market this off-season is Lokomotiv, this season was a complete disaster, hopefully, they have pretty good young players like Ozdoev, Burlak, Belyaev and of course Miranchuk.
ANDY: The top 3 – Zenit, CSKA and Anzhi – likely just need to plug in a few pieces and stay the course. They all have relatively good chemistry and will be the assumed favorites again next season.
It’s more difficult after that, with at least seven more teams pushing for a European spot and crack at the top 3. I can’t really single a team out because it seems like the clubs that under performed struggled more because of poor coaching and/or bad chemistry. I guess with Kuban reaching the Europa League for the first time and key players like Aleksei Ionov, Vladislav Kulik and Marcos Pizzelli already signed with new teams, Dorinel Munteanu’s new club will need to be very sharp in assembling a squad that can compete on three fronts for the first time.
JOHN: Dinamo needs to improve their talent level if they want to challenge for Europe. They are a notch below the other squads, and have to improve if they want to get back in the picture. The clubs competing with Moscow clubs have stepped up their talent level and management, and Dinamo has to do likewise.
PAVEL: Honda, Shirokov.
MANUEL: Well again Zenit, if Hulk leaves will be a big spender. It will be most likely a couple of surprise transfers. Anzhi and CSKA will probably also bring in a couple big names. Anzhi has been already linked with a couple big name moves, the name Walcott has been mentioned. I think it would be unlikely that Walcott would move to Russia but the fact that the club is linked to such a big name suggests that Anzhi once again means business during the off-season.
XAVIER: I heard that Anton Emenov the CSKA chief Scout was in Sao Paulo, and there are some rumors about Paulinho….Would be a terrific signing, but CSKA is very wise with their money to spend 20M€ on a player I doubt it. From my point of view, if there should be a big transfer, it will be on the side of Zenit or Anzhi.
ANDY: I’m positive Anzhi will pull off one, maybe two big transfers, but I don’t know who it will be. I guess the one newsworthy transfer I expect to happen will be Andrei Arshavin returning to Zenit. I’m not sure how much of an impact he will have, but he will get chances during a busy fall schedule for Zenit. Who knows, if he makes a miraculous return to form, that spot on the Russian national team is still his for the taking in Brazil.
JOHN: I think Kokorin will go to Zenit, who will always be looking to add to their Russian contingent when possible. I also think Arshavin will return to the RPL.
PAVEL: Zenit picked up Tymoschuk for free and, I guess, not on a big contract. He still can rock the pitch. They can’t fail with it anyway.
MANUEL: For me the biggest transfer so far has been Tymoshchuk from Bayern to Zenit. We all knew it would happen and in the end it is no surprise that he has returned to his former club. The German paper Spiegel called Tymoshchuk the best replacement player that Bayern ever had. It is true that when he was called for he performed, and he could have easily found a good club in Germany. I believe that he still has a lot to offer and Zenit is lucky to have him back.
ANDY: I’m cheating because I sent my answers in last, but Denis Glushakov’s transfer to Spartak is certainly the biggest move yet this summer. It’s a blow to Lokomotiv that they can’t hang on to their former captain and potentially a fantastic pick-up for Spartak, as Glushakov has looked great for the Russian national team. His ability to make an impact at Spartak will be closely watched.
JOHN: If Denisov ends up going to Zenit, this will obviously be a huge transfer as he is a RNT and a Zenit academy product. This would be a big pick up for Anzhi, as it would be taking a key Russian player from a direct rival.