Let’s reflect on Bakaev’s year at Zenit. Maybe leaving Spartak was a mistake?
Dmitry Zimin September 20, 2023, 08:30 Moscow time
Zelimkhan continued his career with the United Arab Emirates club. He is not the most impressive professional development.
Many expected something more. That after a year of endless and mostly fruitless appearances at Zenit, Zelimkhan Bakaev will completely restart his career. That is, he will move to the middle peasants of the RPL or go abroad, but to a competitive league. However, they did not wait. The midfielder chose a very unique path, which raised many questions. The player was loaned to a team from Abu Dhabi.
But Bakaev noted in the preseason tournament:
Zenit won with an experimental squad. Big birthday for Bakaev!
Al-Wahda is based in the capital: it is hot, there are many shopping centers and the luxurious Sheikh Zayed Mosque. The club has three titles in the 21st century, in addition to third place last season. And even a star. A year ago, to make money, the Brazilian Allan came, the same one who played for Napoli and Everton. Few people understood why he did this at 31 years old. But Al-Wahda apparently had serious arguments. Otherwise, Bakaev will play with UAE nationals and several unknown foreign players.
We will not condemn Bakaev’s election (or anyone else’s). Surely there were reasons for doing so. And they are that obvious. It is unlikely that there would be a queue from RPL clubs for Zelimkhan, given his play last year. Furthermore, Zenit would not have let a direct competitor go. If we add to this the high salary and the desire of agent German Tkachenko to explore the Eastern market, we get a quite logical transition for mid-September. Zelimkhan may not even have had the chance to leave before. After all, Semak, as you know, does not really like to part with the players. But then something probably changed. Therefore, choosing the United Arab Emirates in this configuration is definitely not the worst option.
Photo: Dmitry Golubovich, “Championship”
Although everything was very interesting. Let’s go back for a moment to last summer. After winning the Russian Cup with Spartak, Bakaev leaves for Zenit. Let’s put aside the club’s internal criticism and look at it neutrally: a good player with a Russian passport is promoted to the champion club. Most likely, in the footballer’s head it looked like this. And in a new place he had to prove himself. And to prove something: to Spartak, who underestimated him; to the fans: that he is not Judas; and himself: that he can play at a higher level. And be on par with the best.
Gustavo Mantuán and Malcolm
Photo: Elena Razina, “Championship”
Unfortunately, the popular story quickly died out. Malcolm had the best season of his career, Gustavo Mantuan arrived and Bakaev watched football mainly from the bench. I heard from coach that everyone will get a chance and should take advantage of it. In fact, Zelimkhan had these opportunities, but things did not go further. And there are no complaints about Semak: last season he gave the player 26 games. Yes, there are only six appearances in the base, which is also a lot to brag about. However, Bakaev has only scored three goals and two assists during this time. He is insignificant compared not only to Malcolm, but even to Mantuan. And almost all Zenit players attack.
In fact, almost everyone predicted it. Obviously, with such powerful competition, the Russian had little chance. One of the few who sincerely believed in Bakaev was his agent, German Tkachenko. This is what he said on Koment.Show a few months after the client moved to Zenit.
agent of Zelimkhan Bakaev
“I am sure that Bakaev will be the best player of the month several times throughout the contract and will earn his place in the team. The thing is that today he arrived at the champion team, a higher level team. I know his potential: he can be a first team player. And he will.”
Perhaps, of course, there are more. After all, the lease is valid until the end of the season and does not include the right to purchase. But even after Malcom left, the Russian did not establish himself as a starting player. And again the boy had opportunities, but in vain. As a result, Semak even switched to a formation with five defenders. It became clear that Zelimkhan had no place in it.
Nicholson, Bakaev, Duarte, Agalarov, Carrascal: who is the main disappointment of the season in the RPL?
I think Bakaev could have stayed in St. Petersburg. Get decent money for rare appearances in the field. I didn’t agree, I resorted to principles and went to play football. In this sense, he is handsome. Another point is that football in the UAE is unlikely to allow him to improve in any way. So far it looks like the race has been frozen for a year.
Although, perhaps, Zelimkhan and his representatives know what they are doing much better than we do.