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‘Weird’ situation as Russian prodigy removed from football wonderkids list

Arsen Zakharyan disappeared from Goal’s prestigious NXGN 2022 rankings

Dynamo Moscow midfielder Arsen Zakharyan has been wiped from a prestigious 50-man list of football wonderkids due to his nationality and as a response to Russia’s military operation in Ukraine.

The 18-year-old, who has already won four caps for the Russian national team and is linked to clubs such as Real Madrid, was first put in a respectable 11th place on the NXGN list by Goal.com’s panel.

The list ranks what the panel believes are the world’s 50 greatest wonderkids born on or after January 1, 2003, with Borussia Dortmund’s Jude Bellingham claiming top honors and joined in the top three by Florian Wirtz at Bayer Leverkusen and breakthrough FC Barcelona star Gavi.

Zakharyan was just outside the top 10, but when scrolling the list, readers will now find number 11, where Zakharyan should be, occupied by ‘No Player’.

© Mike Kireev / NurPhoto via Getty Images

A note from Goal cited the Russian military offensive in Ukraine, adding: “NXGN exists to celebrate talented young footballers. Zakharyan is certainly one, and we hope he has a great future.”

“However, in support of FIFA and UEFA’s ban of Russia from club and international competitions, we do not want to endorse or validate the teams Zakharyan plays for. We have therefore decided to leave 11th place vacant.”

Reacting to the news, Zakharyan’s club Dynamo Moscow called Goal’s decision “strange” and “frankly, the weirdest thing ever”.

“We knew about the inclusion of Zakharyan in the list a month ago,” Dynamo explained to Sports.ru.

“A week ago, our club prepared an interview with a player on Goal issues,” Dynamo added, while stating a representative assured them that, “figuratively speaking” football would be kept out of politics and that their prodigy would be on the list – claims which the club say they can prove.

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Dynamo then said that they were not notified of Zakharyan’s expulsion, which is “frankly,  the weirdest thing ever” in their view.

“We have no right to influence other people’s awards, and for us it is not so important – well, they chose or did not choose. But the attitude itself is very surprising,” the club said.

“Note that before the strange decision, Zakharyan was the only player from Russia who was so high in this award. This year he was the only one from Russia,” Dynamo went on.

“At the request of Goal, we did an interview with him, and he was supposed to be delivered a prize: in fact, this is an entry into the top 11 team of the best young players in the world.

“Once again we want to say: it was a complete initiative of this site – to establish an award and include anyone in it. We are glad that Zakharyan objectively deserved this result with his game, work, dedication – according to experts. It is not clear for what reason it should be excluded,” the club concluded.

READ MORE: The young Russian sports stars to watch in 2022

This summer might indicate whether potential suitors have been put off by Zakharyan’s nationality amid previous reported interest from the likes of Real Madrid and Barcelona.

In the upcoming transfer market window, his release clause will allegedly rise to €20 million ($22 million) and then €30 million ($33 million) the following year, but it is only valid for clubs playing in one of Europe’s top five leagues in England, France, Spain, Germany or Italy.

Before the championship was paused, Zakharyan had scored five goals and provided seven assists across 21 appearances in the 2021/2022 Russian Premier League season. 

https://ift.tt/TZ30az4 23, 2022 at 06:15PM
from RT – Daily news

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