Recent reports from the Metro and the Telegraph have emerged stating that Arsenal are leading the race to sign Dynamo Moscow’s Aleksandr Kokorin. The Russian striker has been valued at £4.3 million. So far this season, Kokorin has scored four goals in eight appearances for the 11th-placed Dynamo side.
Kokorin is often hailed as the “golden boy” of Russian football. In 2008, he burst onto the scene with Dynamo’s first team, with then 17-year-old Kokorin scoring the equalizer in an eventual 2-1 win over FC Saturn Moscow Oblast on his debut. Just a year later, he scored the vital goal that gave the club an away victory against Celtic in that season’s UEFA Champions League.
Kokorin really shined in 2012, netting 12 times for Dynamo and leading the club to a fourth-place finish in the league that season. He added ten goals in both 2013 and 2014, guiding Dynamo to fourth-place finishes in both years as well.
Kokorin has been a fixture on the Russian National Team, scoring ten goals in 36 appearances. He made the Euro 2012 squad, appearing once (against the Czech Republic). He also featured in the 2014 World Cup squad, in which he started every match and played all 270 minutes for the Russians, scoring once against Algeria in the final group match; unfortunately for him, it was not enough to put Russia into the knockout rounds.
Arsenal hope that signing Kokorin would add depth to the front line. He would play a vital role in backing up Olivier Giroud, or perhaps even competing for a starting spot. He’s not necessarily the 30 goals-per-season striker Arsenal fans would want, but he could be a key factor during the second half of their campaign. The addition of Kokorin would also allow Theo Walcott to move back into his natural position on the wings.
Although Kokorin is not the most prolific striker, he is still a fairly decent goalscorer. The amount of time it takes for him to adjust to the Premier League will be key. However, the Russian striker adds other attributes to the game besides just scoring. Kokorin is a solid target-man, and is good with the ball at his feet. His layoffs and linkup play with the midfield are great as well. He is also very good in the air, as evidenced by his headed goal against Algeria at the World Cup.
Giving Kokorin the guidance of a managerial legend such as Arsene Wenger would do much to help his development. In the end, Kokorin could be a decent signing for Arsenal, if the deal ends up going through.