It doesn’t take much to get the transfer rumour mill going, but during the 2018 World Cup in Russia, it’s inevitable the gossip columns will be going into overdrive. Within hours of the opening match of the tournament, key players in the Russia versus Saudia Arabia game were promptly being linked with moves to top clubs around Europe, after an impressive display to get the tournament rolling.
Currently plying his trade with CSKA Moscow, 22-year-old Aleksandr Golovin underlined his credentials with a scintillating performance, as Russia mercilessly crushed Saudi Arabia 5-0 at the Luzhniki stadium. His efforts were recognised with a man of the match 9.9 rating, according to whoscored.com stats, thanks to assisting two of the goals, then scoring a superb free-kick deep into stoppage time.
Such was the potency of the victory, odds for World Cup winner bets were slashed in the outright markets for Russia, with the host nation now considered a genuine 50/1 option to lift the famous trophy. Unfancied and with a disappointing record in friendly matches ahead of the tournament, the combination of quality individual performances and solidity overall as a team now makes them a rival to take a lot more seriously.
As the star of the opening encounter, Golovin not only hit the headlines for his individual brilliance but also the possibility that he could head to the Premier League once the 2018 World Cup is over. As always in the gossip columns, it seems every man and his dog are linked with interest from Arsenal, so there’s no surprise that Metro.co.uk immediately suggested there’s been long-standing interest from the Gunners; urging Unai Emery to make a move for the exciting attacking midfielder.
Meanwhile, the Manchester Evening News highlighted comments from Jose Mourinho, who attended the opening World Cup game and was very impressed by the contribution of Golovin for Russia, identifying his playmaker qualities as being key towards the victory for his national team. It was also noted that the Manchester United boss has frequently been scouting the CSKA Moscow man recently, suggesting that he could now be a serious target for the Red Devils.
Nevertheless, any attempts by Arsenal or Manchester United to lure Golovin to the Premier League could be met with stiff opposition from a giant from Serie A, with the Independent pointing out that Juventus will move swiftly to secure his signature. So often the bridesmaids and not the bride, in their attempts to win the Champions League over the last few years, Massimiliano Allegri is hoping to attract some important signings this summer.
Such reports look to be backed up by news from Italy, with renowned transfer tipster Gianluca Di Marzio claiming Golovin may have already agreed on personal terms with Juventus, who apparently already have an open channel of contact with CSKA Moscow.
“I’m honoured about their interest,” the player is quoted to have said, after his stellar Russia performance, although it is understood that the two clubs still have some considerable way to go with negotiations.
Right now, CSKA must be rubbing their hands with glee, because if Golovin continues to offer such stellar displays with every appearance for Russia at the World Cup, their asking price will undoubtedly keep rising with his every touch of the ball.