If “Spartak” wants to achieve something in the year of the centenary of the club, then over the summer they need to renew their roster – not a radical restructuring, but a renewal. The history of last season clearly showed that the resources of today’s team have dried up, it is unlikely to jump higher and will not be able to compete for gold with Zenit on equal terms. And in general it is a miracle, just an incredible coincidence, that Spartak, with its simple style and modest quality of football (I emphasize: we are talking about spring), managed to get into the Champions League zone.
Incoming coach Ruy Vitoria will also be much more comfortable working with a more balanced and diverse set of players in key areas, as he is likely to radically overhaul the system, moving away from three central defenders. And on the whole, the Portuguese has a completely different game concept, implying an exit from the defense not so much through the fight, but through the well-oiled algorithms in the middle of the field or on the flanks.
But if it is necessary to renew the roster, we understand that Spartak is partly limited in financial resources (after getting into the group stage of the Champions League, it will be possible to talk about several major transfers, but now it is too early), plus the club needs to solve the problem of overloading foreign players. The allowed quota has been exhausted, and if the red and white want to strengthen the necessary zones, then it is important to make room for them.
Spartak has some problems with transfers. It is necessary to somehow solve the legionnaire issue
In the current reality, when you have to solve three problems at once (earn money to repair the squad; carry out it; make a legionary exchange), the figure of Kral becomes one of the key ones for the club. And selling it is the most important strategic step that you need to try to take. It is clear that we are talking about the most profitable deal, and not a transfer for the sake of a transfer. If everything works out, Spartak will gain much more than it will lose.
The history of the transfer of Krala to Spartak: he came for too much money and to a non-core position
Kral moved to Moscow in the last days of the 2019 summer window. That transfer was initially embarrassing for several reasons:
1) “Spartak” under the leadership of Oleg Kononov played according to the 4-2-3-1 scheme, the team needed a lower defensive midfielder, because the “second” defensive midfielders already existed: Zobnin and Guliev, who did not have time to radically deteriorate. Both gave a good amount of movement, but the first was heavily involved in the attack, and the second was constantly lacking in tactical literacy. As a result, “Spartak” got Kral, which according to its characteristics is definitely not “six”, no matter how Thomas Zorn assured, but rather duplicates Zobnin;
2) Spartak overpaid a lot – they laid out 12 million euros for an emerging player, not a ready-made one. The result is a fantastic story in which the price of Kral has risen more than 13 times in nine months. Let us recall that in January 2019, Slavia gave 0.9 million for the midfielder. At the time of moving to Russia, Kral was definitely not playing for 12 million – Spartak hoped that he would be able to raise the player and recoup the costs in the future, but it was a risk …
In total, after a year and a half, it is difficult to assess the transfer unequivocally positively, but it cannot be assessed negatively either. Kral did not bring Spartak to a new level, he was a constant player in the first team, but hardly a backbone, along with him the team received both additional trump cards in the form of volume and physics, as well as restrictions on working with the ball and controlling the support zone. The main thing is that Kral did not fall in the sports level, increased the real transfer cost (now, perhaps, it is already approaching 12 million) – and there is indeed a demand for it.
This means that in terms of transfer potential, Spartak worked well in the summer of 2019. Not bad indeed. Because “excellent” is when you pay 900 thousand, and after six months you sell for 12.
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Why Krala should not be considered as the lower defensive player in the 4-X-X model
It would seem that if Kral is constantly playing, then why can’t he be left? The answer is banal: in my opinion Alex is one of the players who limited today’s Spartak. He did not pull back, but specifically limited his sports development.
If you remember, last fall Tedesco tried to build stylish off-defensive football through possession, with short rallies, with algorithms in which the defenders get the ball on the flanks and the flank defenders immediately turn into strikers and set up high. But Domenico did not succeed in bringing to mind what he had begun: by November the structure had collapsed, Spartak suffered several defeats due to the fact that it came under someone else’s pressure. And in the spring, Tedesco started playing hit-run-fight-pick-do the second pace. And in this style, by the way, Kral felt pretty good.
Photo: Dmitry Golubovich, “Championship”
One of the reasons why Tedesco failed to build a really high-quality creative Spartak is the resources in the middle lane. With Zobnin, and even more so with Kral, it is too difficult to attack through possession under pressure. Kral does not have stability under pressure, it can make mistakes at the moment of reception, it is not unique in terms of technique, sharpness during turns and quick decisions with the ball. And that is why in winter Popov brought Hendrix – he in Holland was good at regulating the start of attacks from the depths. Hendrix has not gone well yet, but that’s a different story.
In terms of the quality of defense, Kral is also imperfect. He has a lot of advantages: he has decent dimensions, is physically strong, moves a lot, reacts quickly in pressure, is great at power martial arts with the help of the body. I heard several times from the players: “Many people criticize Kral, and you try to play against him. He runs like crazy. ” But, firstly, for the lower defensive midfielder Kral is not sharp enough in a complex dynamic selection (especially in situations with a change of direction), and secondly, he often turns off and loses concentration – he does not reach the penalty area behind another defensive midfielder, loses the second tempo, tightens too much to the flank and allows a hole in the center.
In a 4-2-3-1 or 4-4-2 system, when there are already two central defenders behind the defensive player, and not three, Kral’s shortcomings may become even more pronounced. Even more volume and even more pronounced defensive characteristics will be required there.
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For box-to-box and a more offensive role, Kral also has limitations. This was shown by his career in “Spartak”
In the football of Vitoria at Benfica, there was often a clear division in the functions of midfielders: one defensive midfielder insured the zone and turned on very little forward, the second was constantly looking for space in front, helped to saturate the zones on the flanks, made jerks with the ball, etc. If the team played 4-3-3, then two “eights” were responsible for creativity, and the “six” remained above the central defenders.
Krala can be used in the role of “eight” or “box-to-box”, but a career in “Spartak” still did not convince that this is the optimal figure for cool constructive football. Yes, Alex makes a huge amount of movement, manages to move both horizontally and vertically, however: a) he does not have a unique technique and coordination for the “eight”, he controls his body and the ball in density on average; b) there are no stable solutions with the ball in the final third – no subtle passes, no shots. Yes, very cool episodes are slipping through – a goal to the top nine in the test match with Pakhtakor, an excellent inclusion through the semi-flank and a pass to the second pace to Promes in the “silver” game with Akhmat, a similar pass in the match with Zenit in the first circle.
Only all these are separate episodes. And we did not wait for integrity for a year and a half. In the current season, the Czech midfielder averaged just 0.64 hits (33% accuracy), collected 0.04 xG and 0.09 xA. These are modest numbers for a player on a team that often owns the ball – and Kral was not always tied to a deep position. I believe that under Vitoria, Spartak will need both a new clean defensive player and another box-to-box, but with a more creative nature. And let Zobnin be responsible for the volume and energy. Unless, of course, Roman fulfills his dream and leaves for Europe.
Now from all sides information is coming in about the future of Krala – allegedly West Ham is interested in him, as well as other English clubs, the agent has already flown to negotiations, somewhere it was even reported that Alex had agreed on a contract. This is great, simply amazing news for Spartak. If you manage to sell the Czech for an adequate amount (after the Euro, the price can easily go up – suddenly Alex will shoot there!), And then wisely spend it on a new player in the central zone, the team will only become stronger.
I won’t be surprised if Kral himself builds a worthy career in England. He is a great professional, has characteristics that are valuable for modern football and will suit many high-level teams. But Spartak still needs to try to move on.