Cleaning of the Lokomotiv and Rostov squads

The railway workers worked out the first part of the winter period of additional applications quite well and strengthened themselves with three players, although Said Khamulich was only taken on loan, and Nikita Saltykov was returned to Krylia Sovetov until the summer.

One way or another, the team considered the current squad not only complete, but even overcrowded, which is why the last days before the transfer window closed were devoted to parting with players who, for one reason or another, were not receiving proper practice.

In total, three athletes left the Russian Railways Arena, but if two of them have a chance of returning, one will build a career elsewhere.

It was Daniil Kulikov, who a few years ago was considered one of Lokomotiv’s most promising midfielders.

He made his debut for the team in 2019 and already took the field in the Champions League match with Bayer in November.

And the next season he played 2175 minutes in all tournaments and took seventh place in the team in this indicator.

But already in the fall of 2021, he received his first serious injury and missed 77 days, after which he never returned to the start - neither under Josef Zinnbauer, nor under Mikhail Galaktionov.

As a result, in the winter of 2024, the contract with the midfielder was terminated.

However, what was much more surprising was not this circumstance, but the fact that the two-time winner of the Russian Cup would spend the rest of the championship in the First League.

“The contract with Rodina will be until the end of this season, then a free agent, we will see how to move on.

Kulikov will continue his career in Moscow, I hope he will help Rodina reach the RPL... He leaves Lokomotiv with dignity, life does not stop at one club,” the athlete’s agent Vadim Shpinev, who had previously openly conflicted with the general director of Red, told Match TV -green Vladimir Leonchenko.

At the same time, a couple of weeks ago Kulikov was wooed to Torpedo, but subsequently it was not he who went there, but his former teammate Ivan Kuzmichev.

Initially, the lease is for six months, but his stay in the camp of the automakers may last another season if they manage to break into the RPL.

But they don’t have much hope for this.

After 20 rounds, Oleg Kononov’s team is in eighth place and ten points behind the leading Dynamo from Makhachkala.

It is curious that several weeks ago there were rumors about the transfer to Torpedo of not only Kuzmichev and Kulikov, but also Dmitry Rybchinsky.

But in the end, the latter avoided, albeit temporary, a downgrade, agreeing to move to Baltika.

And this period promises to be very important for him.

In June, his current contract with Lokomotiv expires, and it is his performance in Kaliningrad that determines how high the demand for him will be in the summer.

But if Kulikov and Rybchinsky refused a transfer to Torpedo, then Roman Tugarev agreed.

He could have gone to Fakel, but preferred a more modest team.

Apparently, in order to get more chances to prove himself, which he had serious problems with in the last six months.

In all tournaments, the winger played only 742 minutes and scored a goal and an assist.

In turn, during the current championship, Alexey Ionov also dropped out of Rostov’s squad.

However, the 35-year-old player did not wait for the end of his contract with the club and terminated it in December.

True, he was clearly in no hurry to find a new job and decided only a day before the closing of the application period.

The choice fell on Ural, which after his arrival received the status of “the oldest RPL team” (27.8 years).

True, the leadership of the Yekaterinburg residents is not bothered by the athlete’s age.

“We quickly agreed.

Tomorrow Alexey will fly to the club's location and will train.

I think he will play again, fight again,” Ural President Grigory Ivanov told RIA Novosti.

Castling in CSKA

If Ionov spent a total of three and a half years in Rostov, then Konstantin Kuchaev defended the colors of CSKA for more than eight years.

In July 2015, he joined the reserve team, and over time he grew to the senior team, for which he played 153 matches, scored 11 goals and gave 15 assists.

And in 2023 he won the first and so far only trophy.

In the final match of the National Cup with Krasnodar, he started, but was replaced during the break.

And he just watched his partners win in the penalty shootout.

And although Kuchaev was considered one of the club’s most talented students, he failed to become the main player at VEB Arena.

This was largely due to constant injuries.

Since 2017, he missed a total of 483 days, and when he returned, he was forced to help his mentors patch up holes.

During his career, he has already tried himself in nine different positions, avoiding only a transfer to the defensive line.

And if you believe Konstantin’s February statements, nothing has changed.

According to him, he was tried both in the supporting zone and closer to the attack.

At the same time, the end of Kuchaev’s current agreement with CSKA was inevitably approaching.

And as the footballer’s agent Alexander Klyuev hinted in November, the parties were unable to reach a consensus.

Apparently, there was no progress over the next three months, as a result of which the decision was made to break up.

Until the summer, Konstantin will play for Paris NN, after which he will become a free agent.

Obviously, midfielder of the Algerian youth team Sid Ahmed Aissaoui can become a direct replacement for Kuchaev.

He arrived in Moscow two days after Kuchaev’s departure and cost the red and blue only €150 thousand. Moreover, there are no statistics on his performances at the club level even on the specialized portal Transfermarkt.

But despite this, CSKA has already rushed to warmly welcome the newcomer and indirectly compare him with Zinedine Zidane and Karim Benzema.

Indeed, in the video dedicated to his presentation, he was called “a real Algerian talent”, “a diamond” and “perfection”.

But CSKA did not stop there and, at the end of the transfer window, strengthened itself with another African footballer.

As part of a partnership agreement with the Iranian academy KIA, flanker Amirhossein Rivandi was rented from the Iranian Second League team.

As in the case of Aissaoui, its level is still difficult to assess, as a result of which there was no talk of a full purchase.

But the contract provides for a buyout option in case the athlete comes to court in the capital.

"Krasnodar" and "Wings" have found strength in South America

While CSKA has its sights set on the African market, its medal rivals are looking to Latin America.

In particular, the current leader of the Russian championship, Krasnodar, limited itself to two targeted acquisitions in the winter.

At the beginning of January, defensive midfielder Kevin Castaño was purchased from Cruz Azul, and at the end of February, striker Victor Sa was taken from Botafogo.

And the prospects of the 29-year-old Brazilian are in doubt.

Yes, the forward has experience playing in Europe.

For the Austrian Kapfenberg and LASK, he scored a total of 82 points using the goal + pass system in 123 matches, after which he received an invitation to Wolfsburg.

But he never demonstrated such productivity again either in Germany or in the UAE, where he represented Al-Jazeera.

And upon returning to his homeland, he was far from so bright, and in nine meetings this season he was not at all effective.

Perhaps in him Alexander Ilic sees a possible replacement for Ilzat Akhmetov, who left for Zenit.

If something happens, Sa will be able to replace João Batchi or Olakunle Olusegun on the left side of the attack and liven up the game a little in the end.

It will be extremely difficult for him to claim more.

If Victor fails, the “bulls” are unlikely to have much regret.

This performer cost them €1.5 million, and the contract with him runs until the summer of 2025.

In this regard, the invitation of “Wings of the Soviets” to Franco Orozco is no less interesting.

Unlike Sa, the 22-year-old striker is at the beginning of his career and is constantly improving.

If in 2022 he scored three goals and gave two assists in all tournaments, then last year his figures, although slightly, increased (4 + 3).

And if the Argentine continues to develop in the RPL, then the Samara team will certainly take advantage of the option and buy out his contract.

“Franco is a bright young footballer who can play in attack in any position.

We followed him for a long time, negotiated and are happy that he moved to Wings.

During the loan, he will have the opportunity to prove himself, and we will get to know him even better,” said the club’s sports director Sergei Kornilenko.

In addition to the African and South American direction, Russian clubs also paid very close attention to the situation on the Balkan market.

Rubin closed its pre-application campaign with two transfers of Serbian football players.

Bogdan Jočić was taken from Vozdovac, and Luka Bijelovic was loaned from Spartak from Subotica.

Both are designed to strengthen the offensive line, but rather in the future.

Although the second of them has already managed to impress not only the leadership of the Kazan team, but also the coaching staff of his team.

In January 2023, he made his debut for her in a game against the USA, but was not called up again.