Alan Dzagoev: Russia’s Euro 2012 star slowly fading into the abyss

After his stunning performances in June of last year at Euro 2012, it has come as a bit of a shock, just how Alan Dzagoev has fallen away from the headlines. In fact the last headline that he made of any note, wasn’t because he helped his club CSKA Moscow win the Russian Championship for the first time in 6 seasons, but as a result of being caught on film insulting title rivals Zenit Saint Petersburg with every name under the sun.

It’s been a bit of a fall from grace, but just why such a decline in form has happened, is a bit of a puzzle. Although he didn’t do anything particularly wrong in CSKA’s title winning season, he certainly wasn’t the star of the campaign, and found himself fluttering in and out of the first team. Where this leaves his future though, isn’t any easier to figure out.

Euro 2012 couldn’t have gone much better for the Beslan native. In a poor campaign for Russia overall Dzagoev was the real only positive aspect to take away from the tournament, with 3 of Russia’s five goals coming from him directly, and showing just what Russian supporters had to look forward to for the next few years.

At one point, it even seemed he had one foot in Arsenal, but in just one year, all that fuss has completely faded away into virtually nothing. One thing that didn’t help his cause though, was CSKA’s absence from Europe. Going into the second leg of their Europa League qualifying game against unfancied Swedish side AIK 1-0 up from the away leg, the Russians inexplicably capitulated, losing 2-0 in one of their worst European results in their history.

Bowing out of Europe only seemed to help the Army men however, with their main rivals Zenit and Anzhi being preoccupied with the Europa League until late April. And it showed in the final standings, CSKA becoming Russian champions for the 11th time, finishing a mere two points ahead of then defending champions Zenit.

While Dzagoev was understandably overjoyed, he went a step too far with his celebrations. A CSKA fan decided to record the slightly unsavoury incident as their number 10 emerged to celebrate with fans following their title clinching game against Kuban, and he for whatever reason felt compelled to shout obscenities to the address of Zenit (the clip is down below). Not surprisingly the video went viral and the media certainly took wind of it, but surprisingly the RFS decided to take no notice of the whole situation and it wasn’t followed up.

He may have got away without punishment, but that was just about the most eye-catching thing he had done all season. Apart from a spectacular bicycle kick against Volga early on, he didn’t do an awful lot that was worth taking any notice of, and for a player that had taken Europe by storm on the biggest stage of all just a matter of months ago, it has come as a real disappointment.

Although now already 23, he had already caught the attention of Europe’s big guns preceding last year’s European championships, his talent spring-boarded him into the CSKA first team on a regular basis from a young age, and Real Madrid were rumoured to be sniffing around after his services.

But after Euro 2012 if his name wasn’t already known, it certainly was made known. And a club known for spotting raw talent, Arsenal, seemed poised to make their move. With one ageing and out of form Russian already on their books, Andrey Arshavin, Dzagoev seemed the ideal replacement.

Although a concrete offer was never officially made, it was seeming to be just a matter of time before CSKA parted ways with their new main star, but it for whatever reason, it hasn’t turned out that way for the time being at least. Let’s not write off him just yet, but it does seem, that he let the opportunity slip through his fingers when it seemed the perfect time to make the move West.

It isn’t just with CSKA where he has fallen slightly out of favour either. Fabio Capello, appointed head coach of the Russian national team following Euro 2012, seems unwilling to put too much faith into Dzagoev, and coupled with CSKA being out of Europe’s focus last season, it’s no wonder why everyone has forgotten about Russia’s brightest hope.

His talent was on showcase for at least some of Europe at the recent under 21 European championships in Israel, where he managed to score one goal and show himself in a good light in the two games in which he took part in, but his country’s early exit got in the way of showing what he could really do.

A new season brings new hope and opportunity though, and with CSKA competing in the Champions League group stage, he has yet another fantastic platform on which to showcase all of his abilities.

The season in Russia has already started, and while for Dzagoev himself things haven’t started off as he would have dreamt them, missing a penalty against Krylya Sovetov just a matter of hours after becoming a father, he should be saving himself for the upcoming Champions League in September.

There’s not much doubting about just what talent he possesses, and with this being a pretty tough time for Russia’s youth system, every single talented player for the future needs to be looked after, and not be let to slip by the wayside. With Dzagoev that shouldn’t be the case, after all winning the league crown with your club is no achievement to be sneered upon.

With personal matters he has to step up on his game, with only being 23 the best years of his career are still well ahead of him, but if those years of his career are going to be spent fulfilling his potential with one of Europe’s super clubs, or plying his trade with CSKA, will be decided in the near future.


Written by Shaun Nicolaides

Follow Shaun on Twitter @zenitfan93

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