Roman Neustädter is rumoured to move to Zenit Saint Petersburg as early as this winter. The German transfer portal transfermarkt.de reported, on Tuesday January 12, that Neustädter’s move to Zenit is dependent on whether the German, who was born in Dnipropetrovsk before the collapse of the Soviet Union, can gain Russian citizenship.
The Russian paper Izvestiya, meanwhile, reported that Neustädter has already verbally agreed to a move to Saint Petersburg as soon as the player receives his Russian paperwork.
Saul Pope, on January 10, already identified Neustädter as a likely Zenit transfer target for the winter. As it is understood to be only a matter of time before Neustädter receives his paperwork, the Schalke midfielder, who is equally adept as a centre back, spent his Christmas break in Moscow.
Neustädter told the German paper Bild that he met with officials of the Russian Football Union in Moscow to discuss the feasibility of his playing for Russia: “It is true, I have met with officials [of the RFU] and they will move everything forward.”
Neustädter could play for Russia as early as March 2, and then represent the country at Euro 2016. Neustädter told Bild, “A new door has opened for me, and participating at European Championships would be the fulfilment of a lifelong dream.”
A move to Russia could also cement Neustädter’s place in the Russian national team—he is currently 27, and is therefore would be the ideal age for a footballer when Russia hosts the World Cup in 2018.
The only question that remains is whether Neustädter, who is valued at €7 million, will move to Russia during the winter or the summer transfer window. Neustädter will be a free agent, come the summer, but Schalke could be interested in selling the player now, as this would be the last chance for the Germans to capitalize on the player financially .
Schalke are sponsored by Zenit’s owner Gazprom, which could benefit the negotiations. Also, Neustädter did not appear in this season’s Champions League, which would allow Zenit to register the player for the first round of the Champions League knockout stages. Everything considered, it now appears likely that Neustädter could leave Schalke in the coming weeks.