The ex-star of Zenit and the Russian national team Andrei Arshavin gave an interview in which he made a controversial statement about legionnaires in our football.
“I bet that the earliest option for the return of Russian clubs to European competition is 2025. It seems to me that we will have intermediate results after the return. If everything goes well with finances, our tops will be able to increase. Do not expect extravaganzas, but we will not allow a complete failure either. Is it worth it to keep legionnaires in a period without European competitions? In my opinion, we need to let everyone go and bet on our own, ”said Arshavin (RIA Novosti Sport).
Yuri Alberto has left Zenit but is not playing for a very specific reason
If these words were uttered by an ordinary official, coach or player, they might not have been paid attention to. But Arshavin is a big figure in Russian football. Therefore, Andrey’s statement is discussed and I want to discuss it with him.
Firstly, now it is simply pointless to talk about the timing of the return of Russian clubs to European competition. Because any scenario is possible: a ban for 10-20 years, and a quick return to the Champions League, Europe and conferences. Even in the current situation, our athletes were allowed to compete in international tennis, judo and chess competitions. If the situation in Ukraine calms down in the next six months, then it cannot be completely ruled out that UEFA will give the green light to the performance of Russian clubs in European competitions at least on neutral territory, without spectators and “without a flag and an anthem.” Politics is too complicated a thing to predict anything with 100% certainty. Probably, if the RFU did not believe in their chance, they would not fight in the Swiss courts.
The second point is an understanding of what our football will turn into without legionnaires. The RPL clubs will have two ways: either to “overfeed” Russian stars with money again to keep them from leaving for stronger leagues, or to agree to a salary cap and sag deep as a roster. Obviously, if salaries correspond to the European market, then more or less ambitious Russian players will rush to where the level of football is quite high. Those who are lucky will go to clubs from the top 5 leagues or Portugal. The rest will pack their bags to Turkey, somewhere else.
We will either artificially limit the growth of the best Russian players, “killing” with money, or we will completely destroy our championship. In the second case, without foreign players and the strongest Russians, the RPL will turn into a tournament at the level of some Finnish Veikkausliga, where players play for hundreds of yawners in the stands. Clubs’ TV revenues will drop to zero.
What’s the best thing to do?
On the contrary, in the current circumstances, when the road to European competition is closed, you need to create the most competitive environment in your championship. Russian players must fight for trophies on the field or for a place in the squad in training with foreign players. To feel that the RPL, despite the ban, remains a solid league, albeit inferior in terms of average level to five or six leading European ones. We must appreciate that in Russia players like Malcolm, Wendel, Claudinho, Douglas Santos, Barrios, Promes, Mozes, Isidore, Moro, Laxalt, Cordoba are ready to continue playing. If it is possible to bring legionnaires strong for the RPL, then what is the point of refusing them? High-quality foreigners go to work in Asia, realizing that there will be neither the Champions League nor the Europa League.
Arshavin invited Russia to abandon legionnaires
Photo: Dmitry Golubovich, Championship
After all, official government officials say that Russia is not closed off from the world. Rejection of legionnaires contradicts this position. There are doubts that the same Arshavin or one of the leaders of Khimki, Roman Teryushkov, who also wants to “cleanse” our football of foreign players, will refuse, for example, to purchase foreign cars or clothing made abroad, if they suddenly close the road abroad. Another thing is that Russia must first of all develop its own players. But not by destroying the competitive environment, but by improving the quality of education so that children and youth schools and academies do not leave “semi-finished products”.
What else confuses in the words of Arshavin?
Another statement by Andrey looks undeniable: “It seems to me that now there are guys who can get into the base of Zenit directly … I’m going to torture Sergei Bogdanovich Semak so that one or two players go directly from the academy to the base.”
For Zenit, such a largely artificial introduction of a couple more of their pupils into the base, as in the case of Odoevsky, will, in fact, mean a refusal to fight for the championship. Youth, of course, is unstable, and one or two weak positions can lead to defeat in any match. Even the super-talented Arshavin really gained a foothold in the Russian national team only at the age of 23, and won the first serious trophy after 25. Andrei and other pupils of the St. Petersburg club, who later became players of the Russian team, grew up with Yuri Morozov and Vlastimil Petrzhela in Zenit, who were not obligated to win trophies. Therefore, they had the right to make mistakes, to unsuccessful games. The young Arshavin, Alexander Kerzhakov and others had not one or two of them – much more.
Arshavin scored a hat-trick, but did not celebrate any of the goals. What was he up against?
Today’s Zenit has completely different opportunities and ambitions. Accordingly, young people should develop according to a different program. Through leases, sales and repurchases. Look at the careers of the club/St. Petersburg football players who have been playing for blue-white-blue recently: Dmitry Chistyakov, Daler Kuzyaev, Alexei Sutormin, Danil Krugovoy, Mikhail Kerzhakov. They left for more modest teams, matured there and proved in real competition that they deserve a place in Zenit. No one pulled them as the basis for beautiful eyes. For St. Petersburg and all of our football, it will be good if the same Odoevsky turns out to be an exception and becomes the goalkeeper of the Russian national team in a year or two. But it is more likely that even under the most rosy scenario, he, like Vyacheslav Malafeev once, will take four to five years.
It seems that neither Russian football nor Zenit will benefit from these two proposals of Andrey.