Borussia Dortmund have been linked with FK Krasnodar’s forward Fedor Smolov. Manuel Veth, Editor in Chief of Futbolgrad.com, assesses a potential permanent transfer of the 26-year-old striker to the Westfalenstadion.
Smolov has told the Russian television station Match TV that there is interest from other clubs who want to sign him in the winter. He also stated that he would prefer to finish the season with Krasnodar, but that “There is one team for which I would be willing to leave Krasnodar in the winter.” Asked which country the team is from he said: “Germany.”
There have been numerous reports from Russia stating that this club is likely to be Borussia Dortmund—although reports that a Borussia delegation is already in Krasnodar to finish a deal that would see him move to Dortmund in the summer seem a bit premature.
The facts are that Smolov would like to finish the season in Russia, we also know he does not want to go to England, and that Krasnodar’s owner, the billionaire, Sergey Galitsky will not sell to a club from the Russian Football Premier League. Finally, there are really only two teams in Germany – Bayern München and Borussia Dortmund – who could afford Smolov, and also be an attractive destination for him to leave Krasnodar immediately.
I know that Bayern is not the club looking at Smolov, which really only leaves the Ruhr side. In fact, it would be the only move for Smolov that would make sense at this point, as his style of play would be a perfect fit for the club.
Smolov has played most of his career as a winger, but former Krasnodar head coach Oleg Kononov converted him to a central forward last season. Smolov scored just six goals as a winger in the first half of the 2015-16 season, and then 14 goals in the second half of the season (13 goals in the last eight games) when he was moved to the centre forward position.
It was not just the goals he scored that made him such a force in the Russian Football Premier League. Smolov also provided nine assists and the necessary leadership that saw a struggling side finish in a Europa League spot.
More importantly, he has shown that he is not a one-hit wonder, as he has already scored 10 goals in 12 RFPL matches this season, and also scored twice in just two Europa League games.
His biggest strength is certainly his tactical flexibility, as the 187cm tall forward can play both as a centre forward, but also on both wings, as well as a second forward in a 3-5-2 formation. Another standout is his technical ability. Smolov is a strong and powerful forward, but he also has a pair of fine feet, which makes it difficult for the opposition to stop him. His height also means that he is strong at set-plays.
There are very few weaknesses in his game, but something that has stood out in the past is his inability to properly cross the ball and a bit of a lack of offside awareness. Furthermore, there is always a question mark over Russian players coming to play in Europe, as they often struggle with life abroad.
I do, however, believe that Dortmund are a perfect fit for Smolov, especially if they sell Adrián Ramos. His tactical flexibility and his goal scoring prowess means that he would not only be an upgrade on Ramos, but also a serious alternative to Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.