It looks as though one of Chelsea’s reported main targets this summer will not be making the move to Stamford Bridge after all.
Alexandr Golovin has been left out of CSKA Moscow’s recent squad after the Russian side reportedly accepted bids from the Blues and French side Monaco in the region of thirty million euros (£27 million) with Golovin opting for France over west London.
Ex-Chelsea technical director Michael Emenalo was one of the key men in convincing the Russian star to head to France with the lure of a greater probability of regular game time securing Monaco their man.
But, what exactly will Chelsea be missing out on in Golovin?
Well, for starters, he’s a wonderful passer of the football. Looking at his performances in the Russian Premier League for CSKA Moscow, he was their joint best passer of the ball in midfield (counting only players who played more than ten games) with an 82.4% pass success rate. He also made on average 1.5 key passes a game which ranked him third for CSKA.
Furthermore, he’s also comfortable holding onto the ball and dribbling with it. He ranked second in the entire Russian Premier League with 1.8 dribbles per game (second only to Manuel Fernandes of Lokomotiv Moscow).
His World Cup performances for Russia tell a similar tale. He led the Russians in key passes per game (1.5) and dribbles per game (1.3) while also attempting far fewer long balls per game (0.8) than midfield cohorts Zobnin (2) and Gazinskiy (2.3).
If there was to be a criticism of Golovin’s game, it would be that he does not get enough goals or assists from midfield. He finished the Russian season with five goals and three assists from 21 appearances which is not the most impressive return even if his game is not to score or create bags of goals.
That being said, his role in the attack for Russia and CSKA never really called for him to always be at the decisive end of an attacking move rather keeping the ball moving and looking for that key pass.
A Blow For Sarri
In truth, the missed opportunity on Golovin is a bit of a blow for Maurizio Sarri who was reportedly a huge admirer of the Russian and had him scouted at Napoli for months prior to his breakout at the World Cup.
Golovin’s skillset would have been ideal for the way that Sarri likes his teams to play and there are obvious comparisons to draw between Golovin and Sarri’s former captain at Napoli, Marek Hamsik.
The centre of Chelsea’s midfield drew much criticism last year (unless they were named N’Golo Kante) and a player like Golovin would have injected some much-needed creativity and excitement into what had become a rather workmanlike group.
That being said, though, this is not a lost cause for Chelsea.
While they may have missed out on Golovin just now, there is still time to bring in the Russian midfielder in to Stamford Bridge further down the line. Golovin is only 22 and early signs from Monaco are that they view his signing as one with resale value in the future.
“In my opinion, Golovin will definitely play in any of the leading clubs in the world.” Monacos’ vice-president Vadim Vasilyev said in a statement confirming Golovin’s move, “But it will [take] him some time, a transition stage.”
Chelsea have missed out on a real talent in Golovin and fans and club management have every right to be gutted by this news.
However, early indications seem to show Cesc Fabregas playing a more attacking role in pre-season and that should at least help Sarri’s system work in the Premier League. Plus, if Golovin performs as well as expected in Ligue 1 with Monaco then expect Chelsea to make a move in no time.