Weekly wonderkid: Timur Zhamaletdinov

Timur Zhamaletdinov, the driving force behind CSKA Moskva’s run to this season’s UEFA Youth League quarter-finals, has just been promoted to the first team for his top-flight debut. Can he be the potent weapon the Army Men’s attack has been lacking?

Name: Timur Zhamaletdinov
Club: CSKA Moskva
Debut: 21 September 2016 v Yenisey Krasnoyarsk (Russian Cup)
Position: forward
Nationality: Russian
Born: 21 May 1997
Preferred foot: right
Height: 1.81m

They say …
“Timur is self-made. In some ways, even at CSKA no one believed in him. Now he’s doing a great job but he needs to keep progressing.”
Aleksandr Grishin, CSKA reserve team coach

“We are following Zhamaletdinov closely. He was at his best in the UEFA Youth League and attracted attention from outside Russia.”
Evgeny Bushmanov, Russia U21 coach

Background …
Born in the Russian capital, Zhamaletdinov spent seven formative years at Lokomotiv Moskva’s academy but, frustrated by a lack of playing time, switched to CSKA in 2010. Four years later, not long after his 17th birthday, he graduated to the reserves. Last winter he took the next step, joining the senior team’s training camp under Viktor Goncharenko. While away he signed a new contract.

Playing style …
Goncharenko sees Zhamaletdinov as a target man, and the 19-year-old has all the attributes, not least a sense of where the goal is. His movement is excellent and he anticipates play well. With fine technical abilities he can also create goals from nothing.

Shades of …
The youngster’s heroes include Luis Suárez, Robert Lewandowski and Edinson Cavani. “First and foremost I follow the strikers who score a lot of goals,” says the teenager, who also has an eye closer to home. “I would like to learn how to make passes like Alan Dzagoev, how to shoot like Zoran Tošić and how to keep calm like Igor Akinfeev.”

Zhamaletdinov scores in the UEFA Youth League

Eureka moment … Zhamaletdinov was at his best in the 2016/17 UEFA Youth League, his six strikes including three in two matches against Monaco and one in a 2-1 win against Rosenborg in the round of 16.

Translation: Zhamaletdinov is preparing to make his debut in the Premier League.

Best-case scenario …
Since the departures of Seydou Doumbia and Ahmed Musa, CSKA have lacked a free-scoring forward. Coach Goncharenko often has Aleksei Ionov, a midfielder, spearheading the attack. So if Zhamaletdinov can live up to his promise, there should be opportunities aplenty.

He says …
“I will be 20 in 2017 so it’s time to prove myself in the first team – I have to make the matchday squad on a regular basis and get some playing time, even as a substitute. I think it’s possible.”

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