LOOKING FOR A BOMBER
Dynamo performed well in the first part of the season, lagging behind Zenit in 18 rounds by only a couple of points. This result is tantamount to declaring the fight for the championship. Moreover, the team demonstrates perhaps the most attractive football in the league – cheerful, energetic, sometimes reckless.
Nevertheless, the blue-and-white lacked stability, which was confirmed by home defeats against Nizhny Novgorod (1: 2) and Krylia Sovetov (0: 1). Experts in the search for the team’s weaknesses agreed that it lacked a more effective scorer.
Indeed, with all due respect to the young talents of Vyacheslav Grulev and Konstantin Tyukavin, 10 goals for two in 2,062 minutes (one goal for 206 minutes) is not enough to fight for gold. For comparison, Artem Dziuba and Serdar Azmun, actively criticized in the fall, Zenit players scored 17 goals for two, which is why the champions have a 10-goal advantage (44 goals against 33).
ZORN DISTRIBUTES GIFTS
Sandro Schwarz and Zeljko Buvac also realized that if they were looking for reinforcement on the side, then first of all it was in the center of the attack. Their choice fell on the forward of the Russian national team Fyodor Smolov, whose contract with Lokomotiv expires in June. The railway workers continue to bend their line to rejuvenate the composition, so Thomas Zorn has firmly decided to part with the striker in winter (and at the same time with the aged Matsey Rybus) in order to help out at least some amount for his transfer.
In the last couple of weeks, it was reported that there is interest in Smolov in MLS and Spain. Fedor himself allegedly wanted to try his hand in the United States and even hired the Gold Star agency for these purposes, which works with athletes in the North American market. But Dynamo quickly found their bearings in the news stream and entered into negotiations with representatives of the striker, offering him a one and a half year contract with the option of extending for another season. Apparently, he will move within the Moscow Ring Road.
On Tuesday, Lokomotiv withdrew Smolov, so the official announcement of the transfer can be expected within the next hours, if not minutes. Journalist Dmitry Egorov assures that he has already passed a medical examination and is filming a presentation video. For Dynamo, this is practically a New Year’s gift from the league’s competitors.
SMOLOV RETURNS ITS 2007
Overall, this decision is clear to both sides. Dynamo will get an experienced effective striker. Even in such a terrible season for Loko, he managed to score seven goals in 15 RPL matches. In addition, as his former partner Kevin Kuranyi noted, Fedor speaks excellent English, which means he can be a link between Russians and legionnaires.
For Smolov, the plus is that he will not only stay in Russia, but will also return to his native team (after all, he was a pupil of Dynamo, he made his debut in big football in 2007), and even with the prospect of winning something serious and playing in the Champions League.
Of the embarrassing factors, we note the striker’s high salary at Lokomotiv, where he received about 3 million euros a year. In “Dynamo” there are no such salaries, which means that either he will have to make a significant reduction, or the management risks making problems in the locker room with their own hands. It is unlikely that the players will be delighted with the fact that the guy, albeit with a name, but who has not done anything for the club yet, is paid noticeably more than those who have been pulling the team on themselves all this time. We all remember how the arrival of the Hulk and Axel Witsel at Zenit turned out.
HOW DOES SMOLOV FIT INTO THE DYNAMO GAME?
The second aspect is purely football. Smolov is a penalty area forward, while the blues and whites are often looking for an opportunity to complete the attack from a middle distance. In this respect, it is significant that the team is the first in the RPL in terms of the number of shots (17.8 per match), and only the fourth in terms of shots from the penalty area (8.4).
Midfielders Arsen Zakharyan, Denis Makarov and Sebastian Shimanski shoot masterfully from any distance, which they use, inflicting 2.6-2.9 hits per game. According to this indicator, all three are in the top 10 (!) RPL. At the same time, Smolov is generally the most striking player in the league (3.4 hits), however, to deliver an effective blow, he needs high-quality delivery of the ball to dangerous zones, and Dynamo often open up the opponent’s defense with shots and serves, which the forward will have to cling to. And the strikes themselves in such a situation are often without preparation and in opposition from the defenders.
In addition, Smolov demonstrated his best football in Krasnodar, where the whole game was focused on possession of the ball and bringing it into the penalty area, while Dynamo are trying to carry out their attacks swiftly. The same Tyukavin and Grulev went deep into the depths to maintain a quick counter-blow, while Smolov’s strong qualities “spray” such a style.
This means that Schwartz will have to somehow adjust the team’s game in the spring part (the winter training camp will provide enough time for this). Otherwise, the team may not receive the expected return from Fedor’s transfer or receive, but not in full (after all, he scored his seven goals in the counter-attacking Loko). The first friendly matches will surely provide an answer as to whether the German specialist will adjust the team’s play to a potentially very productive tip, and how the attacking group of players will distribute responsibilities for completing attacks.