It was almost a mini English raid on Spartak Moscow this winter. But while Kim Kallstrom’s switch to Arsenal has been laughed at rather than praised, the move of Irish winger Aiden McGeady to Everton is something which has only been welcomed. For a number of years McGeady has been fancied to be snapped up by one of England’s finest, and after a reasonably successful spell in Russia it has finally happened.
But is it too late? At 27 years old he is fast heading to the twilight of his career, and despite starring for Celtic from a very young age only Spartak were willing to give him a chance at an even higher level. McGeady himself though has never made any bones about the fact that he wants to test himself in England, and with Everton he has the perfect opportunity to do so.
At being 27 though he really doesn’t have that many years ahead of him to prove himself. And many British fans had completely forgotten about him while he was out in Russia. For the player himself, he can’t have too many regrets about his time with Spartak. The Russian league offers much more than the Scottish league can, and if it took him a bit of time to acclimatise, he settled in well in the end.
But his British temperament didn’t go down well with the Russians. In last season when he was sent off against Mordovia Saransk he was banned for two games after vandalising the dressing room, and when receiving his first red card in Russia in a derby game against Dynamo Moscow back in 2010, he was caught swearing with words and hand gestures.
And unfortunately, his Spartak career didn’t end very sweetly. Due to poor discipline within the team, he was demoted to the club’s youth side and it soon became quite clear that his Moscow days were somewhat numbered.
For a reported fee of just around two million euros the Russians decided to release McGeady, and for Everton it’s a good deal. Despite being born in Scotland McGeady chose to play international football for the Republic of Ireland through his Irish heritage, and without doubt he is one of the most talented players to play for the country in a long time.
While the stereotype of British players is of them not being able to play anything other than long ball football McGeady goes completely against it. His playing style isn’t anything like the typical British style, and he possesses the ability to beat his opponent one on one with excellent technical skill.
At Celtic this was picked up upon very early and in Moscow he added a real flair to Spartak’s attack with his low centre of gravity, a skill which made life very difficult for all of his opponents in Russia.
Just if he can replicate that in England of course is a very different question. In the Premier League he just won’t have the time to think what to do with the ball like he did in Russia, and if he doesn’t manage to think a bit quicker on the spot, he could become easy meat for defenders. But he certainly has the raw ability to shine.
His experiences of playing in the Champions League for both Celtic and Spartak will give him and Everton a big helping hand, and he will only help push Everton’s bid to compete in the Champions League next season.
Back in Russia and despite their differences, Spartak will really miss him. The Muscovites have a solid if somewhat dour squad, and if they can find a replacement for his trickery and creation is something which I have doubt in. Spartak are for the first time in years firmly in the title race, but McGeady’s departure is only going to hinder them, especially when you see that they have not made any purchases in the transfer window this time around.
McGeady won’t just be given a starting spot in Everton though. Despite seeing their long term manager David Moyes leave for the brighter lights of Manchester United last year the Merseysiders have gone from strength to strength, and under new boss Roberto Martinez they are playing some excellent football which is getting eyecatching results.
McGeady often finds himself on the right flank while being able to cut inside with ease, and if he manages to show what he is really capable of, then he should be able to hold down a starting place. English fans and journalists alike have now for sometime been wanting to see him in England and for the player himself it without a doubt adds pressure, pressure that he might find difficult to deal with.
But it’s pressure that he certainly should be able to shake off, and Everton fans have a real player on their hands if he shows what he is really capable of.
Written by Shaun Nicolaides
Follow Shaun on Twitter @zenitfan93
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