Transfer Talk: Who is Aleksandr Kokorin?

With the news that Arsenal are in negotiations with Dinamo Moscow for the transfer of Aleksandr Kokorin, we asked Russian Football News’s editor-in-chief Toke Møller Theilade for the lowdown on the talented striker.


source: Transfermarkt

source: Transfermarkt


Who is Aleksandr Kokorin and what type of player is he?

Kokorin is in many ways a complete striker, meaning that he is good both with the ball on the ground, but also in the air. He has a good technique, and he can create chances not only for himself but also for his teammates. He is not the kind of striker who waits in the box for the ball, but instead he is an active participant in the build up.

It is however worth noticing that Kokorin is not the kind of striker who scores 20 goals on a season. In fact, he his season record is 10 goals. At Dinamo he has often played together with another striker, for example Kevin Kuranyi, which allows him to find the open space behind the more static striker. For both Dinamo and the Russian national team he has furthermore often been used on the wing as sort of an inside forward.


Who would you compare him to either past or present, or does he possess his own style?

I’m not much for comparisons, as they tend to be unfair to both players. If he ends up at Arsenal, I’m sure many people will compare him to Arshavin, but in my mind Kokorin is far from the player Arshavin was when he was at his best.


How highly is he rated in Russia?

Kokorin has since his debut at 17 in 2008 been seen as the future for Russian football, and there has been a lot of hype surrounding him. His development has however somewhat stalled in the past few years, and while he is still one of the stars in Russia, the expectations for him is no longer as high as they used to be. A move to Arsenal would of course change this, but it seems that many people have started to grow tired of Kokorin’s flashy lifestyle combined with his few goals.


What happened in the short lived transfer to Anzhi?

His short career at Anzhi had nothing to do with Kokorin, but rather Anzhi who collapsed. The club owner Suleyman Kerimov cut the club’s funding and from one day to another they were forced to get rid of all their stars. Big names like Samuel Eto’o, Christopher Samba, Yuri Zhirkov, Igor Denisov and of course Kokorin among many others left the club, and six of them joined Dinamo.



How reliable is Russian media outlet Izvestia and how has the news been viewed at Dinamo Moscow and Russian media in general?

Izvestia is the least reliable source in Russia. They tend to get some very spectacular transfer stories, but there are rarely any truth in them.


Does this transfer rumour surprise you?

Not anymore, as they already emerged last summer. Back then they did, as I don’t see Kokorin as good enough for a big club like Arsenal. He is obviously a talented guy, but with him soon turning 25 I fear he is close to turning into one of those “what if”-players.


How long have Arsenal been scouting him and who else has shown interest in Kokorin?

While the transfer rumours didn’t emerge until last summer, I’m certain that Kokorin has been on Wenger’s radar for many years now. When Fabio Capello was the Russian national team coach, he tried to talk AC Milan into signing him, and over the years Kokorin has been linked with many big clubs. As I said earlier, he is a big talent, and I don’t think there are any major European clubs who haven’t scouted him at one time.


He’s 24, are you surprised he’s only now being considered by a European club?

Kokorin has without a doubt been considered by European clubs for a long time, but with an annual salary on €5.5 million he is one of the best paid players in Russia. Few clubs have been ready to pay that kind of salary to a player who is unproven at the highest level.


Has Kokorin indicated he’s unwilling to sign a new deal and therefore his employers are looking to cash in?

Kokorin loves Dinamo, and there have been talk of him accepting a pay cut to help his employees during their financially hard time. Nothing has however happened yet, and with Dinamo’s current financial and FFP problems they are likely to cash in on Kokorin. Especially as they aren’t competing for European spots this season. Dinamo were punished hard by UEFA for spending too much money on players, and a sale of Kokorin could help the club a lot.

With Dinamo’s ban from European football and firesale last summer, he is however no longer playing for a top club, and with his contract expiring next summer it is time for Kokorin to take the next step, unless he wants to accept a big paycut to stay with Dinamo.


After initial promise Russian talisman Andrei Arshavin failed to live up to expactations

After initial promise Russian talisman Andrei Arshavin failed to live up to expectations at The Emirates


Do Russian players prefer to make transfers to Europe once they’ve reached their mid-twenties, such as Andrei Arshavin, or is it something European clubs do rather than take them in their youth?

Many young Russians have transferred to European clubs in the past two years. We have seen guys join FC Barcelona, Schalke 04, RB Leipzieg etc. There is however some truth in the statement, that Russian players prefer to stay in Russia. Because of the foreigner quota they are very well paid, so they don’t have much reason to leave home for an insecure future in Europe. I’m sure English fans can relate to this, as it is similar to the situation you have with the rules of homegrown players.

I like to split the exodus of Russian talent into two periods. The first one came after the fall of the Soviet Union, when it suddenly became possible and easy for Soviet players to join West European clubs and earn big money. Back then profiles like Andrei Kanchelskis, Valeriy Karpin, Aleksandr Mostovoi etc left Russia. The second wave came after the 2008 Euro, when guys like Zhirkov, Pogrebnyak, Arshavin, Bilyaletdinov and Pavlyuchenko left Russia to join big clubs. Unfortunately, most of these players failed miserably, and ever since we haven’t seen any big Russian names leave the country.


If Kokorin arrives does he have the potential to become Arsenal’s first choice striker and take them on a level?

It is a difficult question to answer. From what he has shown in the past two years, I don’t see him making much of an impact at Arsenal to be honest. However, he is one of few Russian players who have the potential to play in the Premier League, and if he stays focused and reach the level his talent allows him, he could be a success. Just like with Arshavin, it is all up to him. If he works hard he can still go far.




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