Juventus: Why Alan Dzagoev Should Top Bianconeri's Wish List
The Bianconeri have enjoyed a decent start to the season and currently sit in third place in the Serie A, trailing league leaders Roma by five points. In the UEFA Champions League, the results have been less impressive, but the team still controls its own destiny.
However, good teams always have an eye on the future, and with the winter transfer window just two months away, it's time to start looking at possible reinforcements.
The Bianconeri are currently being linked with players like Manchester United's Nemanja Vidic and Chelsea's Romelu Lukaku, but their main priority should be a player they've had their eye on for much longer: Russian midfielder Alan Dzagoev. It simply makes too much sense, for all parties involved.
Juventus were rumoured to be interested in the CSKA Moscow-star as early as 2011, but the team's interest flew largely under the radar. The team had just started a league campaign under new coach Antonio Conte and would go through an entire season without a loss, relying heavily on a midfield triangle that quickly built up a reputation for being amongst the best in the world. With a clear lack of options in the attacking front, the transfer focus shifted away from midfield.
In 2013 however, it has become clear that the same midfield could use reinforcements. With Coach Conte no longer exclusively leaning on his 3-5-2 formation and the added strain of midweek matches in the Champions League, Juventus are in need of both depth and youth in the squad.
Enter Alan Dzagoev. Three years ago, the Russian midfielder was seen as perhaps the biggest talent in the world. Deployed as an attacking midfielder with the versatility to swerve out wide, Dzagoev displayed an incredible combination of vision, maturity and athleticism that had teams across Europe begging for his signature.
The youngster was instrumental for CSKA Moscow and also impressed in the shirt of the Russian national team, as he quickly became a star in the Russian Premier League. His most impressive traits were his consistency and his production. While young midfielders often flash their potential without actually making an impact on the stat sheet, Dzagoev racked up goals and assists at an incredible rate. He caught my eye back then, and has been a personal favourite of mine ever since.
Three years later, Dzagoev is still that same player. And that is both a good and bad thing. The production is still there, but he seems to have plateaued as a player. Dzagoev never took the next step, and his name no longer pops up on the transfer market like it used to.
But this has less to do with Dzagoev the player, and more with Dzagoev the Russian.
The Russian Premier League is an upcoming league that has done a great job of keeping its talent playing on native soil, but it has a horrible reputation when it comes to talent development. Players come up through the youth systems, flash their potential and are then forced to take a back seat to overpaid foreign stars. It may sound harsh, but Russia is a place where careers stall and die.
Igor Akinfeev was once regarded as the biggest talent at the stopper position in the world. Samuel Eto'o is no longer the same player since he came back from Anzhi Makhachkala. Aleksandr Kerzhakov never fully reached his potential, and teammate Hulk has seen his stock plummet in the past 12 months.
Teams have become wary of signing talent directly from the RPL because of what happened to Andrey Arshavin and Milos Krasic, but it is important to remember that both players found immediate success with their respective teams and the wheels came off later. Arshavin was nearly voted Player of the Year for Arsenal despite only arriving in London in the winter transfer window, and Krasic was a productive player for Juventus during a time the team was underachieving. The latter never was a good fit for what new coach Antonio Conte wanted to do with his team, while the former simply grew lazy and let his talent go to waste.
But this should not be held against Dzagoev, and while his stock may have fallen a bit in the past 24 months, he is still a supremely talented, productive young player with tons of experience at the highest level. He is versatile enough to play all three spots in the centre of the park and has spent a lot of his time out on the wings in recent times, with great results. In Dzagoev, Antonio Conte would have a player capable of replacing all three members of his MVP midfield in the 3-5-2 and his choice winger out on the right in the 4-3-3.
Dzagoev reminds me a lot of current Juventus player Claudio Marchisio, but the Russian has a higher ceiling.
A move away from his native Russia is needed for Dzagoev to take the next step in his career, and in Turin he would get the chance to learn from and play with the best.
Arsenal and Tottenham were once viewed as the most likely destinations for the young Russian, but those teams have since filled their need for a central midfielder with Mesut Ozil and Christian Eriksen. Meanwhile, Juventus are in need of some depth in midfield and are set to lose Andrea Pirlo in the near future. Conte has been rotating his midfielders with good results, and there is no reason to believe Dzagoev would not receive an immediate spot in the rotation.
A move to Turin makes sense for all parties involved and should be a financial possibility for the Bianconeri, a benefit of the player's value stalling. CSKA might be hesitant to sell as the team will already be losing Keisuke Honda to AC Milan in the near future, but if Juventus ramp up their interest the player might force the team's hand.
And it never hurts to try. Dzagoev could be both an immediate impact player and an excellent building block for the future. Paired with the likes of Paul Pogba and Arturo Vidal, the future would look awfully bright for the Old Lady.
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