Arsen Zakharyan, in the event of a transfer to Strasbourg, will become the second Russian legionnaire in the history of this club. True, according to R-Sport, the footballer would not want to move to this club yet, and Dynamo is against the deal. But, perhaps, how about categorical? After all, if everything goes well for the young midfielder, he can repeat the path of Alexander Mostovoy. At one point, playing for the Alsatians helped the Tsar restart his career in Europe and become a top league star.
Zakharyan and other young RPL players claim the Golden Boy award:
Two Russians will compete for the award for the best young player in Europe. And also – the legionnaire from “Zenith”
Mostovoy went abroad at the age of 23 – Benfica took him from Spartak Moscow in December 1991. However, the Russian legionnaire did not manage to quickly play in Europe. Competition for the attacking midfielder position among the Lisbon Lions was strong, so Alexander played only a few games in two years in Portugal. Europe could “spit” the future tsar. But France saved his career abroad.
In December 1993, Benfica loaned Mostovoy to Cana until the end of the season. This team was struggling to survive in the first division of the French championship, and Alexander had to help her solve the problem. In Cana, our legionnaire showed himself well, although he did not show any super performance. In 15 games, he scored just three goals, two against Martigo and one, victorious, against Marseille. The French club retained a place in the elite and wanted to keep the midfielder, but he abandoned this idea after learning what kind of compensation Benfica is demanding. And then, at just the right moment, Strasbourg appeared in Mostovoy’s life.
The Russian was still in France. Caen’s manager Daniel Gendupe went to Strasbourg and convinced the Alsatians to give Mostovoy a four-year contract. In the summer of 1994, the club made several major transfers to move from 13th place closer to the leadership group. As part of the blue and white team, Alejandro was opened so that two years later he was bought by the Spanish.
“In France, I felt like a football player again,” Mostovoy admitted in an interview with Jotdown.es. – From the first day I started to train well, I was happy and played well. And I was very lucky with the coach – Gendupe. He immediately he began to give me “ten”, like a star …
Then the coach signed a contract with Strasbourg and the only condition he put on the club was that he sign me. Gendulet said: “Listen Alex, I’m going to Strasbourg. There is already a strong team, but I want you to come with me. I told him, great.”
Strasbourg finished the 1994/1995 season in 10th place, won a ticket to the Intertoto Cup. Mostovoy immediately got a place in the base: he played 29 matches in which he scored six goals and gave seven assists. But the main event for Alexander and his teammates could be victory in the French Cup. Strasbourg, led by our legionnaire, reached the final (the Russian scored the winning goal against Bordeaux in the quarterfinals), where they faced PSG. Back then, Paris certainly wasn’t as scary to its rivals as it is today in Ligue 1. PSG only finished third in the league. Mostovoy played the whole game, and Strasbourg gave the favorite the fight, however, the Parisians still won with a score of 1:0 thanks to a goal from Paul Le Guin.
Alexander Mostovoy in Strasbourg
Photo: From the personal archive of Alexander Mostovoy
And the next season, 1995/1996, turned out to be even more productive for the Russian. Mostovoy scored 16+2 in 47 games in all competitions. In the Intertoto Cup, Strasbourg won their group and had a chance to play in the UEFA Cup. There, the Alsatians could only be stopped by Milan. In the French championship, the blue and whites took a step forward: they finished ninth.
In Strasbourg, Mostovoy lived in an apartment in the very center of the city, overlooking the river and the incredibly beautiful cathedral. There he also met his future wife, Stephanie, a student at a local university. However, soon the girl interrupted her studies, because the couple had a child.
In the middle team, Mostovoy was the main ball, the blue and white game was built around him. Alexander began receiving offers from other foreign clubs. Since Strasbourg is located on the border with Germany, the German Bundesliga was called up especially actively. As a result, in the summer of 1996, the Russian left France. But his farewell to Strasbourg proved difficult.
“I liked everything in Strasbourg: the coach, the president, the people, the pitch. I even liked the city”, Mostovoy said in an interview for Jotdown.es. – But then there was Euro 1996 with the Russian national team, and I went crazy with the number of proposals received. In the end, the president of Strasbourg called me and said: “Listen, Alex, you have two more years left on your contract and I will not let you go.” I said I don’t care. I thought that everything would be the same as with Benfica when I escaped. As a result, I proposed to update the terms of the contract and compensation. We started negotiations, but for some reason they were not completed. I think they were sure that I would not leave, since nobody is going to activate the termination clause. With the passage of time, I began to feel like this: no club wants to pay and the transfer market is about to close.
Kuzyaev’s first match in France:
Kuzyaev played against two Mbappé. How was the debut of the Russian midfielder in Le Havre
One day, the president spoke to the press and said: “We gave Mostovoy an ultimatum of five days to make a decision: either look for a club to buy him or stay. I got into a difficult situation, because the club did not want to improve the conditions and nobody gave me the required amount. I thought it would be there by now.”
Mostovoy went on strike, stopped attending training. He achieved his goal: if not a salary increase in Strasbourg, but a transfer: a week before the end of the summer window, Celta bought the Russian. The Spanish club paid the French 325 million pesetas (about 2 million euros) in one of the most successful operations in its history. Alexander went to Vigo a completely different player, ready to make a difference in the top flight. Maybe Zakharyan should take Strasbourg as a halfway point?