That Artem Dzyuba continues to be regarded as little more than a bullish, battering ram of a striker is one of the greatest injustices in modern football.
At 6ft 5ins and with a forehead seemingly made of reinforced iron, Russia’s old-school number nine is one of the most effective targtmen in the game today. But there’s more to him than bullet headers and knock-downs.
As anyone who watched Dzyuba produce a centre-forward masterclass against a dismal Scotland on Thursday night will tell you, the 31-year-old is the embodiment of a tired old phrase. His touch, after all, is a little better than you might expect for a ‘big man’.
The Zenit St Petersburg striker scored twice as Steve Clarke’s side were battered 4-0 in Moscow, volleying in brilliantly from close range before knocking two Scotland defenders off their feet with a remarkable show of strength en route to a second.
But the highlights don’t do Dzyuba justice. He looked a step ahead of everyone else on the pitch in the Russian capital as the Scots danced to his tune. There was a fabulous backheel to create a chance for a team-mate and a sublime chip which clipped the bar on it’s way over.
According to Rianfan, Wolverhampton Wanderers, Crystal Palace and Everton are all interested in bringing Dzyuba to the Premier League in January. Speaking to Sport24, he also confirmed that he has joined forces with Jorge Mendes, the super-agent who brought Joao Moutinho, Ruben Neves and Rui Patricio to Wolves.
Fans from Merseyside to Molineux might have been less than convinced by links with a 30-something beanpole whose spent his entire professional career in Russia.
But Dzyuba is one of the most criminally underrated strikers of his generation. Everton, Crystal Palace or Wolves, who are all lacking real depth and quality at the front of their attack, would be lucky to have him on the evidence of Thursday night.
Dzyuba’s getting better with age and it’s hard to imagine a striker better suited to life on English shores.
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