It feels as though Alan Dzagoev has been around forever. Indeed, having played in 190 professional club matches and having earned 20 caps for the Russian national team, you'd think he'd be at least in his mid-20s. Yet, despite all his experience, Dzagoev will go into the Euros only 21 years old.
The question is, where does Dzagoev fit amongst Russia's numerous attacking options? Will he start regularly for Russia or be a super-sub for his country. Does he deserve to start?
Let's look a little deeper into Dzagoev's background to find out.
At the age of 16, Dzagoev made a fantastic start to his career by scoring six goals in 37 matches for Krylia Sovetov in the Russian second division. His excellent performances for Krylia lead CSKA Moscow to sign him in January 2008.
Fast-forward four seasons, and Dzagoev has scored 37 goals in 153 matches for CSKA Moscow.
It's not all good news for Dzagoev though. Though his appearances and playing time have increased in his four seasons with CSKA, his goal-scoring tally has steadily fallen.
In his first season with the capital club, Dzagoev scored 13 goals in just 29 appearances. Now in his fourth season, Dzagoev managed just six goals in 48 appearances.
It should be noted though that Dzagoev recorded a career-high 12 assists, and 15 in all competitions. Still, the drop-off in scoring is worrying.
What to Expect
Even though Dzagoev's natural position—and the position he usually starts in for CSKA Moscow—is attacking midfielder, manager Dick Advocaat will almost surely prefer his Zenit St. Petersburg trio (Igor Denisov, Roman Shirokov, Konstantin Zyryanov) to Dzagoev in the midfield of his 4-3-3.
Instead, Dzagoev will likely be utilized as a right winger for Russia for most of the tournament. He played as a right winger in three of his last four appearances for Russia, including the team's 3-0 win over Italy.
It should be noted that all of Dzagoev's four goals for Russia came during Euro 2012 qualification, where Dzagoev also played a right winger. He may not seem as dangerous as Andriy Arshavin or Aleksandr Kerzakhov, but teams would be foolish to underestimate Dzagoev in Euro 2012.
What They Say About Him
“If we talk about the transfer money, then I think Dzagoev will be amongst the candidates who will attract bigger clubs. Our team is divided into two groups. The young talents are Dzagoev, Kokorin and Kombarov respectively. The other group is over 30-year-old.”
Konstantin Sarsania believes Dzagoev could finally earn his big move abroad if he performs well at Euro 2012.
All eyes on Hellas for the opening game of the tournament again. Look out for Russia's Alan Dzagoev tomorrow night. Great potential.— Constantinos (@CROUSSIS) June 7, 2012
Alan Dzagoev. Another immense Russian talent. Brilliant for CSKA Moscow.— Chris Phillips (@ChrisPhillips_) June 7, 2012
Chris and Constantinos are two of many who believe that Dzagoev is a great talent, and will be one to watch not only against the Czech Republic, but throughout the entire tournament.
To close, here's a video of some Dzagoev's fine work at CSKA Moscow, back in his first season with the club:
Will he be able to replicate his club form on the international stage?
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