Arsen Zakharyan is perhaps the main young star of Russian football. Midfielder “Dynamo” just recently turned 18, and he is already one of the leaders of the “white-blue”, called up to the national team and attracted the attention of European top clubs.
It is not surprising that at the end of last year it was Zakharyan who became the laureate of the “Top Five” award given by the Children’s Football League (DFL) to the best young player in our country. The ceremony was attended by such celebrities as Mikhail Gershkovich, Boris Ignatiev, Nikita Pavlovich Simonyan. Each of them wished something to Arsen, but most of all I remember the appeal of Mikhail Danilovich, one of the most famous Dynamo players: “In 2023, our club celebrates its centenary. Give us the long-awaited championship, Arsen,” said Gershkovich.
To the delight of Gershkovich and the army of Dynamo fans, it may turn out that the “blue-white” will win the title this year: the gap from the leader of “Zenith” is only two points. Much, of course, will depend on Zakharyan. In an interview with RG, the midfielder noted that despite the interest from Europe, he wants to stay at Dynamo and help the team regain their former glory.
Before the season, few believed that Dynamo would fight for the championship. Do you feel any pressure for second place?
Arsen Zaharyan: No, on the contrary, such results give strength, encourage, make you play even better. There is always pressure in football, but we deal with it.
In recent years, more and more people say that Russia has Zenit and everyone else. You played with them twice recently. What did you think of it?
Arsen Zaharyan: I would not say that in the Premier League this is exactly the case – “Zenith” and all the rest. Any team in our championship can play and defeat them. Remember Tula “Arsenal”, other clubs from the bottom of the table also fought against St. Petersburg. It is clear that Zenit is top, they fought on equal terms with Chelsea in the Champions League. But you can compete with them.
And for “Dynamo” which opponent is the most important?
Arsen Zaharyan: If in general, then “Spartak”, with whom we always have a principled derby.
What are the advantages of the current “Dynamo”?
Arsen Zaharyan: We have strong players in our squad, we do on the field what the coach demands of us.
Sandro Schwartz recently extended his contract with Dynamo. Do you like working under his leadership?
Arsen Zaharyan: Certainly. We are all glad that he decided to stay at Dynamo. I like Schwartz not only as a coach, but also as a person. We add everything to him.
When asked about your future, Schwartz stressed that he had spoken to you and believed that you should stay at Dynamo. What do you think?
Arsen Zaharyan: I am focused on playing for Dynamo. I saw that on the Internet they talk about interest from Europe, but only the press writes about this. I only think about football.
It is clear that Schwartz can cram, suggest something, but is there such a person at home? Maybe a father?
Arsen Zaharyan: My brother always writes after games. When there is something to criticize for, he speaks directly, but sometimes he can also praise. As for the father, he is more a fan, he does not know the subtleties of football, so we can just discuss.
In recent years, they say that the RPL level is falling. And this is how the players reason, in particular, the same Georgy Dzhikia. You’ve probably watched RPL on TV before. How do you level?
Arsen Zaharyan: On TV it may seem to the fans that the level of the Premier League is not very high, but on the field it is not felt. Everyone is fighting, trying to cling to the glasses. Look at the density in the table. But, perhaps, in the past, the selection of players in general was stronger.
Previously, the results in European competitions were different.
Arsen Zaharyan: Well, these are separately taken matches. If you think so, we and the national team performed well in the qualifying cycle. Yes, we lost to Croatia in the last match, we scored ourselves. And so they played normally. Hopefully we’ll go to Qatar. We will do our best for this.
We are playing at home against Poland in the joints, if it passes, the match with the Czech Republic or Sweden will also take place at Luzhniki. Is this a plus or additional pressure?
Arsen Zaharyan: I think a plus. I made my debut for the national team in a home match against the Croats, and I will never forget that atmosphere at Luzhniki. How they cheered for us, worried, supported us with every successful touch of the ball. So it’s a plus – to play in front of your audience.
Were you very nervous in that match with Croatia? From the outside it seemed that the confidence that you have at Dynamo was a little lacking.
Arsen Zaharyan: On the contrary, I think it was my best game for the national team at the moment. He showed himself well, there was a good moment in the first half. Showed that I can do something. Of course, I was worried before the match, but after the first successful action I calmed down and began to play more confidently.
Valery Karpin said several times that the bandage in the national team can be transferred from one player to another. Ready for this role?
Arsen Zaharyan: If asked, why not?
What do you think about Poland? Do you know that coach Paulo Sousa resigned there with a big scandal?
Arsen Zaharyan: Read about it. To be honest, I would not like to adapt to the opponent. We will play our football, especially at home.
After the game with Croatia, Karpin said that our players lack some self-confidence, they seem to be afraid of something. Is there such a thing?
Arsen Zaharyan: Maybe.
And what is the reason?
Arsen Zaharyan: I can’t name one reason right now. Maybe it’s the mentality. I have not played directly against the tops yet, only with the Croats, where there were world-class players. It seemed like I was outlining, I was not afraid. In principle, I will not say that the difference between such matches and in the Premier League is enormous. Perhaps you need to quickly do everything against them. The speeds are different, the intensity. They cover faster, you have less time to make a decision.
You missed the decisive match with Croatia in Split due to injury. How did you think we could hold out?
Arsen Zaharyan: I watched on TV at home. So you are much more nervous than when you are on the field, because in the second case you can help with something, do something, but otherwise you cannot. I was very worried. In principle, we fought, fought … There was no feeling that we would be scored.
In the end, they missed it, but that’s okay. Joints are so joints. In general, fans perceive any defeat or failure in the national team in a special way. And this is understandable: you represent your country. The most important thing is for the people around you to support. Incidentally, I read a lot later that Fyodor Kudryashov was supported after the match with the Croats. Not only footballers, but also ordinary spectators. It is right.
Dmitry Bulykin, former forward of Dynamo, Ajax and the Russian national team, champion of the Netherlands:
“I think Zakharyan was deservedly recognized as the best young footballer of the year. The most important thing is to continue to progress and benefit the team. , Zakharyan needs to show himself somewhere for a season or two, and then, with a stronger psyche and with recognition, leave for Europe. He is considered one of the most talented, here Arsen will play and be called up to the national team. And in Europe he will have to fight for a place in the squad and it is not a fact that he will be included in the squad. A striking example is Miranchuk, who now needs to decide what to do. So I would advise Zakharyan to stay in Russia for the time being, get stronger and only then change something. Especially now at “Dynamo” “A strong team, plays nice football, can claim a lot. And in this club Arsen is one of the leaders. He is still young, he has everything ahead of him.”
Pavel Kozlov, the first coach of Arsen Zakharyan:
“Arsen was already born a football player, he was three heads stronger than everyone else. Children learned basic things, and he already understood football and played it. Zakharyan stood out a lot and did not like to give in. Sometimes he was angry with other guys for what they could not do Some simple things. It was clear: Arsen had outgrown the children’s level, so my task was to pass him on. And he got to Vladimir Korolev, played for the older age. And then there was the academy, and of Dynamo.
Arsen Norayrovich Zakharyan
Was born on May 26, 2003 in Samara.
From 2017 to 2020 he played for the Dynamo youth team. Has been playing for the base of the Moscow club since 2020. At the moment, he has played 31 matches for the “white-blue”, recorded seven goals and gave eight assists.
In October 2020, he was included in the list of the 60 strongest young football players in the world, born in 2003, compiled annually by the British edition of The Guardian.
Member of the European Championship among youth teams in 2021 as part of the Russian national team. In the first match of the tournament against Iceland, he scored the goal, becoming the youngest goalscorer in the final stages of the Euro. He was included in the expanded composition of the national team for the European Championship 2020, but due to bacterial sore throat, he was not included in the final application. The first fight for the national team was held in September 2021 in a meeting with the Croats and became the youngest debutant of Russians among field players. Winner of the “Top Five” award (2021).