Russian international Roman Shirokov is what many would call a late bloomer. After unsuccessful stints at CSKA Moscow and Torpedo Moscow as a teenager he ended up playing his football with lowly division four side FC Istra, division three outfit FC Vidnoye and the now defunct Saturn Ramenskoye.
Another unsuccessful spell, this time with Rubin Kazan followed in 2006, before he first showed his real potential for FC Khimki in 2007; aged 25.
A year later he was snapped up by Zenit St Petersburg and became a regular member of the first team. However this season looks like being the best of the 31-year-old Russian international's career so far.
He has become an undisputed regular in the Zenit midfield; with his creative spark allied with his defensive qualities making him a tour de force in the heart of the Zenit side.
Earlier in February he spoke of his future aspirations and touched on the potential to try his hand at football away from Russia:
"I think I have a few years left so I would like to try myself in a top league abroad," the 31-year-old told reporters. If it was up to me I'd prefer England. I don't think top clubs there would take me but I wouldn't mind joining any team from number five to 10. I think that would suit me perfectly. I don't know if I would change clubs over the summer but my agents are working on it and if something suitable would come up, then I'd like to try it."
A hint of realism in regards to the top four not taking him on but also a suggestion of his obvious self-belief that he would not want to drop below the top ten teams in England.
So which of the five-to-ten would take him on? We assess the likelihood for each team in question.
In all honesty he could probably do a good job for Arsenal in the holding midfield role. But a soon to be 32-year-old untested in Europe’s biggest leagues is not likely to be of interest to Monsieur Wenger.
He could certainly be a suitable replacement for Phil Neville whose veteran legs are starting to catch up with him now. Moyes has previous with a bad signing from Russia in the case of ‘Billy’ Bilyaletdinov.
He might just be the sort of cost efficient player who could help Everton out in the midfield. He would be a particularly great addition if they made it into Europe.
Personally I think Steve Clarke has an excellent pair of defensive central midfielders already in the form of Youssef Mulumbu and Claudio Yacob.
However they could use a little extra cover and Clarke doesn’t strike me as someone who is afraid to dip into different markets.
In terms of playing style Shirokov is the perfect option. Technically superb and composed in possession he would certainly fit into the Brendan Rodgers blueprint.
His age and wage demands will however not be such a perfect fit.
If they struggle to keep hold of Jonathan De Guzman they could use an extra midfielder otherwise you would have to say the club are quite well equipped in that department.
European football may tempt the lad as well.
Simply put he just would not fit into the Stoke City mould.
Where do you think Roman Shirokov could end up?
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