Opinion

If recent reports are to be believed, Chelsea will soon be making their first acquisition of the summer transfer window – in the form of CSKA Moscow midfielder Alexandr Golovin.

The 22-year-old is reportedly set to move to Stamford Bridge, with former Napoli manager Maurizio Sarri imminently replacing Antonio Conte in the Chelsea dugout.

Golovin has been one of the stand-out players in the World Cup for Russia so far, and has attracted interested from many clubs across Europe, not just Chelsea. Italian champions Juventus were keen on the midfielder, but it looks like the Russian will be heading for West London.

With Golovin set for a move to the club, I take a look at why he is perfect for Chelsea.

His career

Born in Kaltan, Russia, Golovin began his footballing journey with FC Novokuznetsk. As a 16 year old, he earned the attention of CSKA Moscow and joined the club in 2012. Coming through the system in the Russian capital, he broke into the first team during the 2014/15 season and has been an influential player since. His impressive performances for his club earned him international recognition, and he has been a key part of Russia’s 2018 World Cup campaign.

His playing style

Overall, he is a very strong and capable midfielder. But his performances for CSKA Moscow and Russia have shown him to be a formidable from set pieces, and a great player in attacking positions. In the Russian Premier League, he is ranked as one of the highest players in key passes (1.5 per game) and dribbles (1.8 per game). But he is capable defensively too, however. In the World Cup so far, he has averaged 3 tackles per game, as well as 1.5 interceptions per game.

His set pieces

As mentioned earlier, Golovin has a reputation of being a set piece specialist. As shown in Russia’s opener against Saudi Arabia, he netted their fifth with a sublime free-kick. London rivals Arsenal will remember the 22-year-old’s exploits from dead ball situations, as he scored in their Europa League tie last season. The Blues aren’t short of free-kick specialists, with Willian and Marcos Alonso also deadly. But having another option could give goalkeepers even more nightmares next season.

Under Sarri

After months and months of speculation, Sarri should be taking over at Chelsea soon, and Golovin is a player that the Italian rates very highly. He wanted him at Napoli, and is set to sign for Chelsea instead. It is likely that the new Blues manager will deploy the 4-3-3 formation that was so successful in Napoli, and Golovin could suit that system perfectly. Golovin could be used in the Marek Hamsik role in the midfield three, due to his attacking talent.

Summary

It’s clear that the signing of Alexandr Golovin isn’t just another example of signing a player who’s impressed at a World Cup. The 22-year-old has been on the club’s radar for many months, and has been eyed by Maurizio Sarri previously too, which are all good signs moving forward. In the formation that Sarri likes to use, Golovin could be a huge part of Chelsea’s future successes.