Zenith, having seriously changed this off-season, returns to the top of the league. But to dominate, the St. Petersburg team needs reinforcement, and suddenly they found it within the country. Wilson Isidore left Moscow not for France, but for the northern capital.
The Frenchman wanted to leave Russia. “Zenit,” like other Russian clubs, this summer experienced great difficulties in strengthening their squad. And Sergei Semak needed newcomers to compensate for the loss of leaders – the broken Rodrigao, Daler Kuzyaev, who left for Le Havre, and Malcolm, who went to conquer Saudi Arabia.
Largely due to the loss of the Brazilian who played on the flank, Semak switched to a new formation. A three-centre-back formation allows him to make better use of the available players and bring out their strengths. But even after switching to a scheme with two forwards, the team needed reinforcements in the attack line.
At the beginning of the season, Zenit started with Mateo Cassierra paired with Ivan Sergeev or Gustavo Mantuan. And there were no more forwards on the team. Theoretically, Alexander Erokhin or Andrei Mostovoy could play in the position of the second forward, but both are not forwards, and this option can only be used as a last resort. The club was looking for options, but all attempts to buy another Brazilian in the attack were fruitless.
It seemed that the St. Petersburg team would have to spend the first half of the season with a meager attack. But at the very end of the transfer window, the club found a good option on the domestic market. And what’s most surprising is that this option on paper looks almost ideal for Zenit.
Wilson Izidor, who arrived at Lokomotiv in the winter of 2022, asked to go home a year later. In the middle of last season, he really wanted to go to France, but then the transfer did not work out. Izidor stayed and had a top streak at the end of the season, scoring six goals in the last seven league matches. Moreover, all his goals were scored after coming on as a substitute.
In the summer the situation repeated itself. The Frenchman did not play in the starting lineup, but scored, and was eager to go home again. “Lokomotiv” was ready to let him go for good money, but no one offered the required amount. Izidor left the club without permission and there would have been a scandal, but suddenly the option of renting to Zenit arose.
Great debut and great hopes Everyone was pleased. “Lokomotiv” partially recouped its investment in Izidor and retained the rights to him for a future transfer, and the Frenchman himself left Moscow, which was boring to him. But Zenit won the most in this situation. For little money, the club will receive a football player who is perfect for the team.
It was difficult for Wilson to find a good position in the current Lokomotiv. For a wing midfielder, he is too focused on finishing, and as a forward, it was difficult for the team to use his trump cards (speed and technique). The Red-Greens attack at a slow pace, often use crosses and are not very good at opening up the opponent’s defense with penetrating passes. In such a game, it was difficult for Izidor to prove himself, entering the field from the first minutes.
Zenit, with the transition to a new formation, plays vertical football and tries to use passes behind the defenders more often. This is how the team brings out the best qualities of its fast forwards, and the French newcomer will fit into this game perfectly. He will only have to open up into free zones, and Claudinho and Wendel will make sure that he gets the ball at his feet.
In addition, Izidor will add a number of missing elements to the St. Petersburg team. He is effective in dribbling and can create chances for himself by dribbling – the other Zenit forwards do not have such skills. The Frenchman also plays well with his head and can help the team in flank attacks.
Well, don’t forget that Izidor is excellent at coming on as a substitute. For the St. Petersburg club, he can become a kind of “wild card” that can bring victory in an equal match. Last year, such “jokers” were Sergeev and Mantuan, who brought “Zenith” many important points. Now they are in the starting lineup, but Semak on the bench now has another option to strengthen. And maybe he will be the key to defending the title.
Surprisingly, the Zenit coaching staff was not afraid to release the Frenchman in the starting lineup for the away match with Rubin in the eighth round. Izidor was not given time to adapt to the new club and was immediately thrown into the attack. And he did not disappoint. Wilson only needed eight minutes to score for the St. Petersburg team. It was his goal that began the defeat of Rubin and brought Zenit to second place in the Russian Championship. If this guy continues to perform like this, then the trophy for winning the RPL may remain in St. Petersburg.