FC Zenit St. Petersburg have signed two former FC Dynamo Moscow players, Yuri Zhirkov and Alexander Kokorin, both well known in Europe.
Zhirkov and Kokorin have been in the Russian national team, with midfielder Zhirkov being one of the best players at Euro 2008 and even nominated for Balon d’Or that year, and attacker Kokorin scored 10 goals in 36 matches for the national side, including one against Algeria at the FIFA World Cup 2014 .
Zhirkov’s European career began and ended at Chelsea FC with 1 goal against FC Spartak Moscow in a European Champions League match in 2010. Poetically, before joining Chelsea Zhirkov had been playing for CSKA Moscow, historic rival of Spartak. Due to a knee injury Zhirkov, made few appearances for Chelsea, and in 2011 was transferred to Anzhi Makhachkala (Russia).
In 2005, Zhirkov won the UEFA Cup with CSKA.
Alexandr Kokorin was reportedly on the radar of Arsenal FC, in late 2015. Arsène Wenger was said to have expressed some interest in having the young Russian striker in his squad. His attacking capabilities may help Zenit strengthen striking options, which is very important in view of the Champions League matches against Benfica (Portugal) in February and March. Competition for places will be very hard for Kokorin. Zenit now has one of the strongest attacking lines in Europe, with Artem Dzyuba increasing his personal goal tally nearly every match and Brazil’s Hulk ready to surprise any defender and goalkeeper.
Tough competition in Zenit is pushing some observers to conclude that both players will be struggle for matchtime.
Salary details have been revealed: Kokorin will be earning 3.4 million euro a year, Zhirkov’s annual wage is 2.3 million.
P.S. About professional team sports in St. Petersburg you can read here.
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