AS Monaco have announced the signature of Russia's World Cup star Aleksandr Golovin. The 22-year-old midfielder arrives in the principality - and Ligue 1 Conforama - on a five-year deal despite strong interest from Chelsea.
AS Monaco have been extremely active in the transfer window so far, bringing in several young players, but on Friday the principality club pulled a huge coup by signing one of the revelations of the 2018 World Cup. Russia midfielder Aleksandr Golovin, who had an excellent tournament for the host nation (one goal and two assists), has signed from CSKA Moscow on a five-year deal worth a reported €30m.
At jut 22, Golovin has already made 18 European appearances (13 in the UEFA Champions League and five in the UEFA Europa League), notably turning in an excellent performance to help eliminate Olympique Lyonnais by scoring a goal in the return leg of their round-of-16 UEFA Europa League tie.
Golovin: 'Can't wait'
Throughout the 2017-18 season, his technique, vivacity and quality of passing impressed all observers, not the least of whom was AS Monaco vice-president Vadim Vasilyev: "He is a talented young player who shone brightly at the World Cup, but we have been following him for a long time. He already has considerable experience in the Russian first division and for his country."
Meanwhile, Golovin expressed his joy on his new club's official website: "I'm very happy to sign for AS Monaco. It's a new adventure for me, one I take on with a lot of ambition. I can't wait to meet the coaching staff and my new teammates so we can get right down to business."
In the footsteps of Mostovoi, Smertin, Semak...
Golovin's decision to pursue his career in Ligue 1 Conforama is a somewhat unusual one for a Russian, but there have been a few of his countrymen who have opted to ply their trade in France before him. Vagiz Khidyatullin (central defender with Toulouse FC between 1988 and 1990), was the first Russian to grace France's top flight, with Igor Dobrovolski (attacking midfielder with Olympique de Marseille 1992-93), Aleksandr Mostovoi (attacking midfielder with SM Caen 1993-94 and RC Strasbourg Alsace, 1994-96), Aleksandr Rytchkov (attacking midfielder with RC Lens 1996-97), Igor Yanovski (left-back with Paris Saint-Germain 1998-2001 and Châteauroux 2005-06), Aleksandr Panov (striker with AS Saint-Etienne 2000-01), Alexey Smertin (defensive midfielder with Girondins de Bordeaux 2000-03), Dmitri Ananko (central defender with AC Ajaccio 2002-03), Dmitri Sychev (striker with Olympique de Marseille 2002-04), Ruslan Pimenov (striker with FC Metz 2005-2006) and Sergei Semak (attacking midfielder with Paris Saint-Germain, 2005/2006).
In order to make his mark on French football, Aleksandr Golovin could do worse than following in the footsteps of Mostovoi, the key man in an excellent Strasbourg side between 1994 and 1996, and Smertin, who won the 2002 Coupe de la Ligue with Girondins de Bordeaux. Still, with all the talent this young Russian has, he could even outdo his predecessors…