His first two signings have addressed arguably the two greatest needs on the roster - left back and striker. First, he signed 22-year-old Danish international defender Michael Lumb from AGF Aarhus. Second, he signed striker Aleksandr Kerzhakov from Dynamo Moscow, returning the player to Zenit.
While Lumb becomes the first Danish player to ever wear the Zenit colors, there are many patterns in the Kerzhakov addition. It marks the third time in less than two years that Zenit has purchased a highly-priced player from Dynamo and the second player within six months to have made a return trip to St. Petersburg.
Quite the opposite for Kerzhakov so far, as he has nearly been treated like a hero in his return. Many ultras of the club would make the case that Zenit has been playing without a true striker for the last 13 months since the last match played by Andrei Arshavin.
Kerzhakov not only represents a man who can score quite a few goals, but a Russian-born striker as well. As the Russian Premier League uses a 6+5 system, any Russian players are worth double what they would be normally, especially the ones that can play at a Champions League level.
His arrival also gives Luciano Spalletti the flexibility to play an international player in another position.
In his famed 4-2-3-1 formation, Zenit's two defensive midfielders would be Igor Denisov and Konstantin Zyryanov. But last year proved that even though the 32-year-old Zyryanov may be a fine player, he was beginning to wear down. After all, he played in all 30 RPL matches in 2009 as well as Europa League, Kubok Rossii, and all of Russia's qualifying matches.
In total, he played 50 matches throughout the 2009 season, being substituted out in very few of them.
Having the ability of a foreign center midfield player would be a major asset, and Kerzhakov provides that opportunity. "My decision between Dynamo and Zenit was known a long time ago. Only details between the clubs delayed my transition. Foreign options existed, but when the possibility of a return to Zenit became real, other options no longer interested me," said Kerzhakov to Sport-Express.
The second signing poses a few more questions than answers, however.
What we do know is that Michael Lumb is a very talented kid that has been the choice left back for Aarhus since his 17th birthday, as he has logged over 100 caps at such a young age. We also know that he is an offensive-minded player that loves to get forward and attack, which is an element that Zenit lacked throughout the 2009 campaign.
Neither Dong-jin Kim (now released due to nagging injury concerns) or veteran Radek Sirl could provide much of anything offensively from the left side, which allowed defenders to pay more attention to Aleksandr Anyukov's side.
But, although he was certainly good enough to play for a mid-table Danish club, is he good enough defensively and physically to play for a top-tier Russian side? You would like to believe so, but a lot more will be learned in the next several weeks as Zenit departs for Dubai.
One thing is certain, however. Playing in colder temperatures will not bother him.
"I hope I can demonstrate my best qualities. Indeed, I arrived in St. Petersburg not to be on the bench. I want to play and win trophies with the first team." said Lumb in an exclusive interview with 89.7 Radio Zenit. "I have served as a central defender and had to play attacking midfield with youth teams. So if necessary, I can play any positions, but I feel most comfortable at left defense."
Lucky you, Michael, that is exactly what we need.
All of Zenit's holes however, are not filled. Director of football Igor Korneev is more than aware of this, and was the first person to mention it.
Speaking to Sovietsky Sports about the new signings, he said "Kerzhakov is not the only acquisition in the line of attack, we plan to add another. We hope to have two or three more purchases. As I said, we would like to buy a striker, a defensive player and a half back."
While Korneev did not mention any specific players the club would like to add, he did mention that the new striker target would depend on the fate of Fatih Tekke and Sergei Kornilenko. Both of the strikers appear likely to move away from the club this January, with Tekke returning to Trabzonspor and Kornilenko currently on a try-out with West Ham United in England.
But however, especially if Tekke does not move back to Turkey, Korneev will not have to spend as much on a striker as he would if he did leave.
For now, an athletic striker, a central defender, and a central midfielder remain on Igor Korneev's mind. With the boss now in town, more signings should come in the next few days, as Spalletti has a handful of players he would like to add.
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