Back in October, Russia U21 international Gamid Agalarov insisted that he harboured ‘no doubts’ about his decision to leave FC Ufa for Akhmat Grozny in a £3 million deal, despite interest from the English Premier League and north of the border at Rangers.
Whether his view is shared by everyone at Akhmat, however, is another matter entirely.
With 19 goals, Agalarov was comfortably the Russian Premier League’s top scorer last term. An achievement which looks all the more impressive when you consider his Ufa side eventually finished in the relegation zone. The RPL equivalent of Tom Hanks in Ladykillers. An outstanding performance standing out amid the dross.
Such has been Agalarov’s form since that summer move, however, the 22-year-old now finds himself under pressure to bat away accusations of being a ‘one-season wonder’.
In all competitions, Akhmat’s all-time record signing has three goals in 17 games. One in 11 across the RPL campaign.
Rangers ‘extremely interested’ in Gamid Agalarov
“Last season, he became the league’s top scorer. (Then, opposition teams) began to study him more closely, to prepare for him. Of course, it is now more difficult for Agalarov,” Akhmat coach Sergey Tashuev tells Sport Express.
“Agalarov is ready to prove his worth both in training and in games. I’m sure Hamid will still score.”
Clearly, his coach is not giving up on him. And nor should he. It is not even 12 months since Agalarov was making room on his mantelpiece for Russia’s Golden Boot and class, as they say, is permanent.
But, having said that, the ruthless, relentless finishing that caught the eye of Rangers last year must be rediscovered – and soon – if that record-breaking £3 million price-tag is not to weigh even more heavily upon Agalarov’s shoulders.
“From February (2022 onwards, Glasgow Rangers were extremely interested in signing Gamid,” Agalarov’s agent, Jamal Akaev, explains in quotes reported by Rangers Review.
“I have a good relationship with their sporting director, Ross Wilson. But (a move to Ibrox) didn’t happen.
“Rangers have a Polish scout in Eastern Europe. He watched all of Gamid’s matches and asked me for his details. But they weren’t able to put together a concrete proposal and Rangers signed another striker instead.”
That other striker, it turns out, was Antonio Colak. A man who took his tally to 13 in 17 Scottish Premiership starts – and 17 across all competitions – with a midweek brace in the 4-1 Easter Road humbling of Hibernian.
Agalarov may still come good. But few at Ibrox would swap him for Colak right now.