Andrey Arshavin and Alan Dzagoev: Russia’s Past and Future

Taken from The Metro

Arsenal have always been a club which prides itself on finding young raw talent, and nurturing this talent, although controversially, virtually all the new talent that is found by the club is foreign talent, and some would argue this is not exactly helping the development of the British game as a whole. 

But the Arsenal talent scouts have been hard at work during the ongoing European championships in Poland and Ukraine, and having already snapped up the up and coming French star Olivier Giroud, they’ve now got their eyes on a certain 22 year old Russian.

The Russian challenge in Poland and Ukraine came to an abrupt end however, as a shock defeat to the defence minded Greeks in Poland condemned Russia to third place in their group behind the Greeks and the Czech Republic, and therefore shockingly missing out on the quarterfinals as a result. 

Out of their failed campaign, very little praise was given to any of the players, and rightly so, but one young man has certainly improved their reputation. Alan Dzagoev, a 22 year old Russia from the troubled region of Beslan, managed to plunder 3 goals in just three games, which included a double against the Czechs in a game which the Russians won with a thumping score of 4-1. 

But this isn’t the first time Dzagoev has caught Europe’s attention however. Already 22, just a couple of years ago Real Madrid were rumoured to be on the hunt for Dzagoev, and although nothing came of it, the rumours helped to throw Dzagoev into the spotlight, and all of a sudden, he found himself being scrutinised thoroughly every game, every week.  But his current club, CSKA Moscow, aren’t going to let their starlet go easily. 

The Army club base their game on their dangerous and highly potent attack, which also include Ivorian hot shot Seydou Doumbia and the tricky Japanese attacking midfielder Keisuke Honda, and with these two already being heavily rumoured to be wanting away, it’s unlikely that they’re going to let their young Russian star go any time soon. But after even after just three games at the European championships, he’s already the talk of Europe.

And so from Arsenal’s probable future, to Arsenal’s past. And what a difference there is, between two very similar players. Andrey Arshavin, a fellow Russian along with Dzagoev, in contrast to the young Beslan, has only helped make his ever decreasing reputation decrease even further in Poland and Ukraine. 

Despite racking up a number of assists, which included a delicious pass to Roman Shirokov for Russia’s second goal against the Czech Republic, his distinct laziness and lack of hunger to fight for victory was all too apparent for all to see. 

Take the incident where Poland equalized against Russia for example in the second group game. Arshavin led a dangerous Russian attack on the Polish goal, but after somehow failing to find one of his teammates with a pass, the Polish launched a fast and dangerous counterattack, and while the rest of the Russian players who were in the attack tried to get back and help, Arshavin decided to just mope about at the other end of the field and feel sorry for himself.

Taken from FIFA

The result? Poland equalized from that particular attack and denied Russia of two extra precious points, which incidentally would have taken them into the knockout phase. Maybe it is a bit unfair to single out the 31 year old as the sole reason why Russia failed, but he certainly didn’t help, and he represents everything which is wrong with the Russian team. 

Having been loaned out back to this hometown club Zenit Saint Petersburg after being relegated to the reserves at Arsenal, he aided Zenit to a second successive Russian crown, but it looks highly unlikely, that after his performance at the European championships in particular, that he will find himself back in Arsene Wenger’s plans for the upcoming new season. But the man, 9 years his junior, could find himself taking Arshavin’s place very soon, indeed.

During Russia’s Euro campaign Dzagoev showed hunger and passion for victory of every minute of every game. Just take his passionate celebrations every time he scored a goal as a prime example of just how much he wanted himself and the team to be successful. 

However, compare it to Arshavin’s passiveness and apparent lack of passion for the game, and it’s clear, that whoever becomes the new national team coach of Russia, should focus on gradually phasing out the more aging and passionless players, such as Arshavin, and focusing more on the fiery young talent of players such as Dzagoev. 

The lack of hunger for victory could be stated as the main reason as to why Russia failed to at least qualify for the quarter finals, and Russia are only going to have more disappointments in future tournaments, if the players who clearly lack passion and pride when wearing the Russian coat of arms on their chests, aren’t sent packing from the national team for good. 

While of course players like Dzagoev are a rarity, young talent is there, it just remains to be found. And of course, this is a thing which Arsenal are masters at; finding undiscovered young talent and nurturing it. 

The 22 year old CSKA midfielder may not be undiscovered of course, but at having never played in one of Europe’s major leagues, he is still a raw talent, and if Dzagoev is to move abroad, then Arsenal certainly appears as a logical and ideal choice for him.

These two players are without question, at different ends of the spectrum, one is young and is eager for success for himself and for the team he plays for, and another just looks as though he doesn’t want to be there on the pitch anymore. 

While no one can argue that Andrey Arshavin has been a great advert for Russian football as a whole, and that he is one of the best ever Russian players in history, his lack of passion for the game is starting to look increasingly evident, more and more. 

And then you have Alan Dzagoev, a man who is looking in fine form and ready to test himself at the highest level, with talent and passion in abundance.  In just two players you have the past and future of Russian football personified, over the coming months and  years, the future will become the present, and the past left as the past.

Written by Shaun Nicolaides
Follow me on Twitter @zenitfan93

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