Having already secured the services of Russian veterans Andrei Tikhonov and Yegor Titov at the start of the year, FC Lokomotiv Astana recently pulled off another coup by luring Maksim Shatskikh to Kazakhstan, with the former FC Dynamo Kyiv striker aiming to win Premier League honours at his new club.
The Uzbekistan international's capture represented something of a surprise, with Lokomotiv previously looking set to pick up Baffour Gyan from FC Saturn Moskovskaya Oblast before the Ghanaian forward suffered a serious injury. "Gyan is fine now but he needs time to get fit again," Lokomotiv coach Sergei Yuran told uefa.com. "Unfortunately we don't have that time: we need a striker now. We had another three or four options, but Shatskikh was the best one. We couldn't buy more than one striker because of the limit on foreign players, and we even had to part company with Eduard Valutsa, a Moldovan."
The latest arrival the club formed after a merger earlier this year had been looking for a new destination since the end of the Ukrainian season, having made just five league starts in Dynamo's triumphant campaign. "I was almost out of contract and realised I had to change the situation," Shatskikh told uefa.com. "It wasn't because Dynamo had got a new manager [in Valeri Gazzaev]. I had a few options but I chose to move to Kazakhstan because the Lokomotiv manager, Yuran, was very persistent. He called me a couple of times every day, asking me to sign a contract. I was very pleased with that interest and realised that I wanted to try myself in a new league."
Shatskikh knows at least two of his new partners already, having crossed paths with Tikhonov and Titov while on trial at FC Spartak Moskva. "Before I joined Dynamo at the end of the 1990s, I was on trial at Spartak," he explained. "At the time, they were the strongest team in Russia, playing regularly in the UEFA Champions League and many players wanted to go there. I didn't manage to earn a contract but a bit later I joined another big club in Dynamo. Of course, I didn't expect to play with Tikhonov and Titov again but I'm happy that we met. It's another sign that world is very small."
The 30-year-old made his debut on Friday as his new team went down 2-0 at home against defending titleholders FC Aktobe, who extended their lead over their second-placed rivals to four points. Shatskikh started the match and performed well, coming close to scoring when he found himself one-on-one with Aktobe's goalkeeper. "It's very hard to score in your first match for a new team," he said afterwards. "Added to that, the Ukrainian championship only ended in late May. I need time to build partnerships with my new team-mates. After a couple more training sessions, we'll be OK. I came here to win a league medal and to do that we need to win every match."
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