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Alexey Miranchuk to Atalanta

by David Sansun

Lokomotiv Moscow midfielder Alexey Miranchuk has finally sealed a move outside of Russia. The 24-year-old has stood out as one of the most talented players in the country in the last few seasons and unlike many Russians before him, has taken the plunge and braved a move to Europe to join Atalanta.

Alexey MiranchukWith wages back in Russia so high for Russian players, very few have taken the risk to further their career, with only a few notable moves in the last 15 years including Andrei Arshavin, Roman Pavlyuchenko, Pavel Pogrebnyak and more recently, Alexandr Golovin. Miranchuk is the latest to add his name to the list. Some wondered whether, like Alan Dzagoev before him, Miranchuk would spend his whole career at one club in Russia, his boyhood club Lokomotiv Moscow, but he has the drive and desire to "chase the dream" as he put it in his leaving speech.

An attacking midfielder, Miranchuk along with his twin Anton, have come through the Lokomotiv academy. Having debuted at the age of 17 in 2013, Miranchuk took a few years to blossom having garnered hype after scoring in just his third senior appearance. However, with some doubting whether he would ever fulfil his potential, Lyosha, as he is known, broke through at the age of 19 in the 2015/16 season, becoming a regular in the Loko side.

Every season since, he has just become better and better, scoring more, assisting more, and generally becoming the key man in the Lokomotiv side. Capable of playing anywhere across the attacking midfield line or even upfront, Miranchuk tends to play predominantly in the inside right position. With a sumptuous left foot, Miranchuk is very gifted technically and executes all manner of passes and crosses with ease. He loves playing with the ball and is exceptionally good in tight spaces, with high numbers of completed dribbles every season in the RPL, owing to quick close control and excellent body usage with feints and shoulder drops getting past opposing defenders with ease.

With such fine playmaking abilities, his assist numbers in recent years are surprisingly low, but Miranchuk has had to take on the mantle of leading his team's attack and therefore becoming a fine goalscorer in the process. Lyosha can score in multiple ways. A dead-ball specialist, you will normally find him on penalty and free-kick duty for the Railwaymen, and he has scored some excellent free-kicks during his time in Russia. He will present himself for cutbacks, near post flicks, even the odd header. He favours low accurate finishes from open play and the occasional penchant for a dinked finish.

As previously mentioned, Alexey has a twin, Anton. The primary difference between the two is that Anton is a right-footed player, otherwise, they are remarkably similar in terms of style and position, never mind looks. In terms of ability, Alexey for many years was considered the brightest, but Anton had a huge season in 2018/19 – outscoring his brother by eight goals, while Alexey turned provider with more assists. Naturally, they have formed a fantastic playing relationship on the pitch, and there is some worry as to how Alexey will cope without Anton but he had a taste of this last season after Anton spent quite some time out injured, and carried his side to a second-place finish in the RPL.

This is a huge move for Russian football. A Russian moving to a top-five league is as rarity, and the whole nation, not even just Lokomotiv fans, are rooting for Alexey to succeed. He is supremely talented and absolutely has the ability to play in Serie A. He needs to now prove that he has the mental strength to take on this challenge and show his talent to the rest of the world.

Russian Football News, September 6, 2020

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