In 2018, Alexander Zhirov made one of the most unusual and unexpected transfers in Russian football in recent years, moving from the Yenisei to Sandhausen of the second German Bundesliga. Five years have passed, and finally another Russian, Alexander Filin, made such a bold decision. We look at the astonishing story of the transfer and its prospects.
AND WHO IS THIS?
Alexander Filin is a native of Crimea and a graduate of Shakhtar Donetsk, who in 2017 got acquainted with Russian football and managed to play for Ufa, Pari NN, Tambov and Khimki in five years. And it was with Khimki that Filin was supposed to finish the current season, but the management leaked the team, where he finished the 26-year-old central defender.
In the RPL, he was not the leader in interceptions, tackles and other statistics among defenders, and even in Khimki he was not a key player.
WHERE DID YOU GO?
Eupen is Filin’s new club, with which he signed a 2.5-year contract. Our players are currently playing in Italy, France, Portugal, Israel, Spain and other countries, but the Belgian championship is a relatively new path for the Russians.
Yes, this is not about Genk, Club Brugge or another top team in the country, but you have to understand that Belgium currently sits eighth in the UEFA coefficient table, hot on the heels of Portugal and the Netherlands.
Eupen is 15th, ahead of relegation zone Zulte Waregem on additional indicators only. There is nothing special about the club, except for a few facts:
– Eupen is managed by 32-year-old Edward Still, who performed well at Charleroi and in November 2022 got a chance for Filin’s new team.
– The average age of the team is 22.9 years. Filin, 26, is practically a veteran to most players.
– Eupen often sells players to clubs from the top 5 European championships.
– Eupen has been playing in the Belgian first division since 2016, but during this time has never been higher than 12th place.
WHO SHOULD YOU MEET IN BELGIUM?
Belgian football flourishes and smells, also thanks to the great academies, but the championship is not only filled with young people. There are enough well-known players in the league that Filin, who until recently played in the RPL, will meet, namely:
– Simon Mignolet (played for Liverpool);
– Dedrik Boyata (played for Manchester City, Hertha);
– Shinji Kagawa (played for Borussia Dortmund, Manchester United);
– Islam Slimani (played for Leicester, Sporting, Lyon);
– Vincent Janssen (played for Tottenham and for the Netherlands, with whom he scored 7 goals);
– Robert Bauer (played for Tula Arsenal, former player of the German youth team);
– Roman Neustadter (you already know about this favorite of Russian fans).
Filin is only 26 years old, and he still has a lot of time to not only gain a foothold in Eupen, but also move up, even within the framework of the Belgian championship.