Zenit and Lokomotiv before the 2021 Super Cup: what happened with the teams during pre-season

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News from the teams ahead of their clash in Kaliningrad.

Zenit released two players to Germany, exchanged defenders with Rostov, Zhirkov is waiting for recovery

At Euro 2020, the RPL champions were represented by six players: Vyacheslav Karavaev, Yuri Zhirkov (he finished the tournament ahead of schedule due to injury in the match against Belgium), Magomed Ozdoev, Daler Kuzyaev and Artem Dzyuba played for Russia, while Dejan Lovren played for Croatia. The Russian players’ run ended at the group stage, while the Croatian defender reached the Round of 16 where his team lost in extra time to Spain.

Wilmar Barrios advanced the furthest from the squad. At the Copa America, which was held in Brazil simultaneously to the Euros, the midfielder played all seven matches for Colombia as they finished third. Although he will miss the Super Cup, Sergey Semak is counting on him already for the opening RPL matchday. On the other hand, Malcom - who has swapped his shirt number from 8 to 10 - will leave after the match in Kaliningrad to join up with his Olympic teammates until 6 August at the latest (the day of the Olympic Final in Tokyo).

Two players have extended their contracts with the club after the title win. Andrey Mostovoy’s deal is now valid until 2024, while Mikhail Kerzhakov has added another year. The 34-year-old is now the most experienced keeper in the squad, because Andrey Lunev did not agree on a new contract and left for Bayer Leverkusen, where he will fight for the number one shirt with Lukas Hradecky.

He is not only the player to leave St. Petersburg for Germany. Schalke, who were relegated to the 2.Bundesliga, took 18-year-old Yaroslav Mikhailov on a one-year loan. The midfielder played 19 matches for the Zenit youth team last season. The teams from Gelsenkirchen and St. Petersburg met in a friendly game in Austria, which ended goalless. Mikhailov played for the Germans for more than an hour, and his peer Daniil Odoevsky replaced Kerzhakov and saved a penalty.

Zhirkov’s contract has also expired, but Zenit are expecting to renew his deal for the veteranwho will turn 38 on 20 August 20. "We talked with him, we will return to the conversation after he recovers from the injury he received. Probably, he will understand a lot himself, whether he will be able to continue playing, but we will still discuss the situation in any case," Semak said in an interview with Bobsoccer.

The only summer purchase for the Blue-White-Blues has been Dmitry Chistyakov. Zenit made the Rostov player’s move permanent, and the southerners acquired the rights to Danila Prokhin. Rostov did not interrupt the defender's loan to Sochi and left the player there for another season. Emanuel Mammana has returned to St. Petersburg from Sochi, but he is still gaining form at Zenit-II. It has turned out effectively: the Argentine scored a double in a friendly against Rostov’s youth team.

Lokomotiv: Retained the coaching staff almost entirely, four champions departed, Rangnik invited on board

All Lokomotiv players who went to the Euros came home after the group stage. Dmitry Barinov and Rifat Zhemaletdinov did not make the play-off with Russia, likewise Maciej Rybus and Grzegorz Krychowiak with Poland. At the same time, former team captain Vedran Corluka, who joined Zlatko Dalic’s backroom staff with Croatian, reached the knockouts. After they were beaten in the Round of 16, the former defender returned to Lokomotiv and became an assistant to Marko Nikolic.

The Serbian coach extended his contract with the club for three years back in May. Nikolic's staff has been preserved almost in full: Oleg Pashinin, Dmitry Loskov, Goran Basarich, Radoye Smilyanich, Zaur Khapov and Sergey Alekseev also signed new agreements, with only Sarkis Oganesyan leaving. However, later the coach entered the selection staff.

On the same day as Nikolic, Zhemaletdinov signed a new three-year contract. The team’s newcomers are defender Maksim Nenakhov, who spent the last year and a half at Akhmat, and 18-year-old Minsk midfielder Kirill Zinovich, who scored three goals in 11 matches of the Belarusian championship during the spring.

However, Lokomotiv’s departures exceeded the arrivals, as mostly young players left the club. Nineteen-year-old Maksim Mukhin left for CSKA after a breakthrough spring, during which he became an established player and a participant at the Euros. Then 20-year-old Nikita Iosifov moved to Spanish side Villarreal, and 21-year-old Mikhail Ageev joined Ural. 

The second set of the losses came from players of the 2017/18 championship-winning squad: Anton Kochenkov, Solomon Kverkvelia, Vladislav Ignatiev and Eder left as free agents. Another club product Vitaly Lystsov went on loan to Akhmat.

The biggest Railwaymen transfer occurred at management level. German coach Ralf Rangnik came to Lokomotiv as head of sports and development on a three-year consultancy contract. The list of tasks includes strategic planning, sports development, the pathway of club teams and the academy, as well as preparation of the reserve team.

Rangnick has been working as a coach since 1983. In 2012 he became the sports director of Red Bull Salzburg and RB Leipzig, during which time he returned to coaching at Leipzig twice (in the 2015/16 and 2018/19 seasons). Since July 2019, Rangnik has headed the sports and development department at Red Bull. In addition to the teams from Salzburg and Leipzig, the system includes the New York Red Bulls from the MLS and the Brazilian Bragantino – but a year later he terminated his contract with the company.

Photo: Bayer; Vyacheslav Evdokimov / Zenit; Alexander Pogrebnyak / Lokomotiv; RB Leipzig


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