Rafa appears to be planning for every eventuality this summer and just in case he fails in his bid to land Stewart Downing he is apparently, at least according to this source, keen on this Russian star.
Yuri Zhirkov’s performances in the Russian league and the summer’s European Championship have shown Zhirkov’s ability down the left flank. Equally able in the full back position, or further upfield, he is now beginning to attract attention from a plethora of clubs in need of reinforcement down that side.
Avram Grant let slip a couple weeks ago that Chelsea were not chasing Russia’s man of the moment, Arshavin, but his team-mate, Zhirkov.
His displays have also been brought to the attention of Rafa Benitez and Liverpool, who, should he miss out on Stewart Downing, may be tempted to offer a bid.
Tottenham, Arsenal, Sunderland, and Newcastle, are also in need of width either from summer outgoings, or positions never filled, and may also be tempted by a player of this quality.
Yuri Zhirkov currently plays for CSKA Moscow. (goal.com)
9m rated Zhirkov was mighty impressive at the Euro’s but I guess it’s never wise to judge a player on a handful of performances. Luckily Benitez is a professional football manager of the highest level and I am not, so he has probably done his homework on the left sided man. From what I have seen of him in international action as well as occasional glimpses of CSKA in European competition it appears that Yuri is far better going forward than at the back. He has a great deal of flair and a cracking left foot and I guess it would be fair to consider him much the same kind of player as John Arne Riise, although one hopes the Russian is a better player than the Norwegian has been of late. Can Liverpool fans see Zhirkov being a realistic target for the club, would they prefer an out and out winger to a wing-back?