by Tom Lees - 24th February 2016
In September 2015, as part of a kit manufacturing deal, Argentine superstar Lionel Messi was asked to endorse 10 top young talents with exciting futures. One of the names suggested by Messi was that of young Russian starlet Aleksey Miranchuk. Although he was perhaps one of the more surprising names on the list, at least to those outside of Russia, you only have to watch the left footed youngster dribbling at pace past his opponents to see what Messi was referring to. In a nation preparing to host the 2018 World Cup finals, there is a need for an exciting superstar to emerge, a player to get the fans off their seats, young Aleksey Miranchuk could well go on to be that superstar.
Miranchuk was born in Slavyansk-na-Kubani and in his early years played for his home town side Olymp, before moving to Moscow along with his twin brother Anton. The young brothers would sign up with the Spartak Moscow youth academy, but their time there was short lived with both being released due to physical limitations. Luckily for both Aleksey and Anton though, another Moscow team were watching and both were snapped up instead by Lokomotiv where they progressed through the youth age ranges. Aleksey was a key member of the youth sides that won three league titles, and in 2012 was awarded the MVP trophy in the Russian Football Union Cup. Already much was expected of the young attacking midfielder, and he was rewarded for his impressive development with his professional debut for Lokomotiv Moscow in April 2013.
Further appearances in the first team followed towards the end of the 2012/13 campaign, in which Miranchuk scored his first professional goal for the club and the signs were looking promising for the following season. Unfortunately, playing time for Miranchuk during the 2013/14 season was severely limited and a frustrating season on the bench had to be endured. This season was just a slight blip though, and in the following season Aleksey would re-establish himself in the Lokomotiv first team, and towards the end of the season would put in some outstanding performances. Accolades and trophies would accompany the youngster, twice being named ‘player of the month’ by the Lokomotiv fans and he was also given his first exposure to Continental football in the Europa League. It was in May 2015 where he really showed his quality on the big stage, scoring an impressive solo goal in the Russian Cup final victory over Kuban Krasnodar, earning his first professional club honour. A month later the youngster was given his first senior international opportunity, making his debut for Russia, coming on as a substitute in a friendly victory over Belarus. A further appearance came against Austria the following week, and the youngster will be hoping to add more games to his cv over the coming months and years. He is still a regular for the Russian Under 21 side and has also represented the Under 19 side impressively, but will be hoping to feature more for the senior side in the run up to the European Championships and home World Cup.
An exciting left footed playmaker, able to perform on either flank but most often seen in a central role, Miranchuk has the ability to run with the ball and create for others. Quick over the ground with great dribbling skills, and with great vision and passing ability, the young Russian can not only pick holes in defences but create them himself. Able to play between lines, he has great game intelligence for someone so young and the technical skills to match. He is perhaps the finest young talent to emerge in Russia since Alan Dzagoev and will hope to go on too much greater things than his compatriot, both domestically and internationally. The endorsement received from Lionel Messi seems to have lit a fire under the youngster and he is primed to explode onto the World stage. In the last few months he was named ‘Young Russian Football of the Year’, and as the youngster progresses over the next few years it’s sure that many more awards will follow.