Russian Hope. The Rise of Denis Cheryshev
It's have been a long time since Russian footballers have been successful in the La Liga. Many may remember the Celta Vigo legend Alexandr Mostovoi, who had some great time in Galicia from 1996 to 2004. Former Spartak Moscow manager Valery Karpin also was a well-respected player in his time with Real Sociedad, Valencia, and Celta. Last big-time Russian player in Spain was Aleksandr Kerzhakov, who spent two seasons with the Andalusian side Sevilla. Since Kerzhakov, that Russian spot in La Liga was vacant. Now there's a young man rising and he could be the one, who will write his own success story in one of the best leagues in the World.
Denis Cheryshev is fairly different type of player and person if compared with his predecessors. Almost all of them were the products of the Soviet football system. Born and raised in USSR. Cheryshev was born still in USSR, but he had a chance to grow up in Spain, where he followed the footsteps of his father - Dmitri. His father was a professional footballer, who spent the second part of his career with Spanish clubs - Sporting Gijon and Burgos. Denis started playing football in the youth systems of these sides and later on, he got a chance to join the Real Madrid system. And here comes the biggest difference between Cheryshev and his predecessors. Mentality. Even his Russian peers are slightly different. They're often put under a heavy criticism of being overrated and overpaid, which actually is a fair point. Young Russian footballers often receive generous offers from local teams just because of the limit of foreign players. Teams are forced to overpay just to get the best local talents in their squad. And that's a major problem, which also affects Russia national team. Most of its players don't have any experience playing abroad. They're used to RFPL (Russian Football Premier League) style of play and they don't want to leave it because no one is going to pay them the same money as Russian clubs can afford. Money goes in the first place for them. Maybe that's not the thing to judge or criticize, but that's still a fact.
In the case with Cheryshev, it's clear that he could get some big contract with one of the leading Russian sides. However, he was keen to fight for his place under sun in Spain. He had the privilege to train with the senior squad of Real Madrid. That's a valuable experience and also a sign that he's worth something. Not many players have been given a chance to wear that snow-white jersey in an official match..
After seeing that there's not many chances to make it to the first team of Real Madrid, Cheryshev made a right decision and agreed to be loaned to one of the La Liga sides.
First stop was the Andalusian side Sevilla. Solid team with a potential, coached by Unai Emery. 2013/2014 season turned into a real success for the team, as they became the winners of UEFA Europa League. However, individually it wasn't the best time for Cheryshev. He had a several injuries, which kept him out of action for most of the season. Russian winger played only 5 games for Los Rojiblancos.
Before the start of 2014/15 season, Cheryshev was once again loaned out. This time - to Villarreal. And now it seems that 24-years old Russian has finally found the right place to make a step forward and showcase his skills. Injury free, Cheryshev has become the important part of the Villarreal squad. He's proving that he can not only score goals, but also be a prime-time engine of his team and one of the best assistants in La Liga.
It's all up to Denis but seems that he could have a lot more successful and stable career than his Russian peers. Mentality and attitude will play its role in the future. Cheryshev remains in "hungry-mode". He's keen to join Real Madrid once again and prove that he belongs to that elite squad of European football. He has the motivation that many of his peers in Russia don't have. They already have the big paychecks arriving every month and it looks that they aren't interested to lower the numbers in account just to get a chance to play in Bundesliga, La Liga or any other TOP 5 league. And this is why Russian fans expect a lot from Cheryshev. He's different in a good way and he already is showing some good football.
2018 World Cup in Russia could be the peak of Cheryshev's career. He will be 28 years old, a lot more experienced and probably even more skilled than now. Hard to predict how good his Russia NT team-mates are going to be in 2018, but it's clear that there's at least one man you will probably count on and look at him as on the leader of this team. Russian Hope is rising and we'll soon see what he's capable of.