Manuel Veth –
Aleksandr Golovin has decided on his future and will join AS Monaco. The 22-year-old will, therefore, not move to Italy, where he was linked with Juventus Turin, or England, where he was linked to Chelsea.
The link to Chelsea was always at best superficial. CSKA Moscow owner Evgenii Giner and Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich are close business associates. Furthermore, Abramovich has often been linked as being the potential shadow owner of CSKA – a link that has never been proven by either the media or UEFA.
Abramovich, however, is a bit of a reluctant investor at Chelsea at the moment. The difficult relationship between Britain and Russia has meant that Abramovich is currently awaiting his UK work visa and in return has frozen some of the investments that were supposed to be made at Chelsea.
Even without the difficulties at Chelsea, however, it was always questionable whether Aleksandr Golovin would be even interested in a move to England. Despite Abramovich’s problems, Chelsea are still a big club and a move to England, at this point, may have proven a step too far in Golovin’s career.
Aleksandr Golovin chose Monaco over Chelsea and Juventus
It was also for that reason that Golovin rejected a move to Juventus. The Serie A based club recently completed a deal that will see Cristiano Ronaldo join the club for €100 million from Real Madrid. In midfield, Juve have signed Emre Can from Liverpool. Golovin can play both as an attacking midfielder but also in a more central role and with several prominent names Juventus’ side playing time would have been a rare commodity for the 22-year-old Russian midfielder.
Hence, if Golovin was a betting man gambling on his future, he seems to have calculated his next step. Checking out how bookmakers bonuses work Aleksandr Golovin looked at the options available to him and realised that neither Juve or Chelsea were a good bet.
Instead, Golovin will join the French Ligue 1 club Monaco. Owned by the Russian oligarch Dmitry Rybolovlev Monaco are, of course, another club with a strong link to mother Russia.
Monaco, however, are not your typical oligarch owned club. While Rybolovlev invested heavily to guide Monaco out of Ligue 2 back to the first division when he first bought the club in 2011 and then further invested to establish the club the following season – Monaco are a club known for smart investments rather than throwing around money.
After gaining promotion, Monaco became one of the most prodigious spenders in European football in the summer of 2013 under Rybolovlev’s patronage, spending £146 million on players including Radamel Falcao, James Rodríguezand João Moutinho. Ricardo Carvalho and Éric Abidal were also signed on free transfers with large salaries. Within a year, however, the club quickly changed strategy. Rybolovlev – perhaps under pressure due to an expensive divorce – no longer invested heavily and some stars were even sold.
Monaco were, in relations to other Ligue 1 clubs, still a big spender. But instead of buying further superstars like Falcao the club focused on its own academy. A strategy that has paid off big time over the last few years.
The list of Monaco’s most expensive outgoing transfers includes the likes of Kylian Mbappé (€135 million to PSG in 2017), James Rodríguez (€75 million to Real Madrid in 2014), Thomas Lemar (€70 million to Atlético Madrid in 2018), Anthony Martial (€60 million to Manchester United in 2015), Benjamin Mendy (€57.5 million to Manchester City in 2017), Bernardo Silva (€50 million to City in 2017), Fabinho (€40 million to Liverpool) and Tiemoué Bakayoko (€40 million to Chelsea in 2017) – just to name a few.
It is a strategy that the club is determined to continue. This summer Monaco have already earned €295.6 million from selling 11 players. In return, they have brought in 24 new players that have cost €96 million. Among those players is Aleksandr Golovin, who will cost the club €30 million.
Aleksandr Golovin becomes the most expensive Russian player in history
Golovin is the club’s third most expensive signing behind Falcao and James. Golovin, in fact, is the most expensive player to ever leave CSKA Moscow, the previous record was €24.5 million held by the Brazilian Jô and is now also the most expensive Russian in history breaking Yuri Zhirkov’s transfer record – Zhirkov joined Chelsea from Zenit for €21 million in 2009.
All parties, however, are aware that if everything goes well, Monaco will just be a stop to greater and bigger things for the Russian national team player. Monaco, after all, only invest in players that they can sell with a profit further down the road.
Aleksandr Golovin, in turn, has shown that he can be a prospect that can further increase his market value. The Russian national team player was excellent for CSKA Moscow all last season and has made significant strides in his development playing under CSKA head coach Viktor Goncharenko (read our extensive scout report here).
At the World Cup Golovin was involved in four of Russia’s games – he was rested in the third group stage match against Uruguay. Scoring one goal and two assists Golovin played a decent tournament and was contributing factor in Russia’s surprisingly strong showing. His offensive contribution at the tournament also included playing 1.5 key passes per game, making 1.3 dribbles and completing 74.6% of his 33.5 passes per game.
Given Russia’s largely defensive setup throughout the tournament, these are strong numbers. With an average rating of 7.5 on WhoScored.com Golovin, in fact, had the highest average rating among all Russian national team players at the tournament.
A good showing that convinced Monaco that it was worth making the €30 million investment in the midfielder. Aleksandr Golovin, in turn, will now be betting his future development as a player on Ligue 1 – a bet that may very well work out given the many world stars were produced in the principality.
Manuel Veth is the owner and Editor in Chief of the Futbolgrad Network. He also works as a freelance journalist and among others works for the Bundesliga and Pro Soccer USA. He holds a Doctorate of Philosophy in History from King’s College London, and his thesis is titled: “Selling the People’s Game: Football’s transition from Communism to Capitalism in the Soviet Union and its Successor States,” which is available HERE. Originally from Munich, Manuel has lived in Amsterdam, Kyiv, Moscow, Tbilisi, London, and currently is located in Victoria BC, Canada. Follow Manuel on Twitter @ManuelVeth.