Georgi Milanov 21 Midfielder CSKA Moscow Bulgaria
2013 has been…
2012 was the first time in the last 10 years that Dimitar Berbatov failed to make it into the top three of the Bulgarian Player of the Year award. At the same time as the influence of the 32 year-old striker was finally played down by the Bulgarian media, they anointed Georgi Milanov as the youngest ever winner of the award. A changing of the guard if we’ve ever seen one.
Milanov, a big, strong, goal scoring midfielder, is the new hope of the Bulgarian national team and his winning of the award toasted quite the rise to prominence. His coach at Litex Lovech was a certain Hristo Stoichkov; so we feel confident he’ll have had more than a few conversations on how best to deal with the adoring Bulgarian public. 2013 has seen Georgi build on his award win and he is a stronger player 12 months on. Even if he isn’t playing as regularly in Russia as he has done, the level of competition is much tougher.
A product of the Litex youth academy, Milanov worked his way through the youth teams while transitioning from a promising winger into an all-action central midfielder. The traits learned in wide positions, such as beating a marker with a couple of touches and controlling the ball in tight situations, stand Milanov in good stead as he now operates in the congested central areas of the pitch. It also means he can be deployed in wide positions and perform competently.
That is a lot to be excited about when Georgi is on the ball. As well as being big and robust, he strikes the ball very cleanly with his lovely left foot. As such, he enjoys shooting from distance and has a fine habit of finding the very corner of the goal from well outside the area. He can score from inside the area too. He’s good in the air and reads the game well so makes intelligent runs from deep. As long as he plays alongside someone capable of picking out his runs, Milanov will always have enough chances to score goals.
He finished the 2012/13 league finish with 16 goals to his name, more than any other Lotex Lovech player and with only two players in the whole league ahead of him. His close control and calm head means he rarely fluffs his lines when in the area.
Thankfully, he’s also got enough commitment to put in a shift defensively. Having grafted long and hard in a stuttering Lovech side, Georgi won’t have had any excuse not to do the hard work. Although, at first, we did get the feeling he was everywhere on the pitch. His twin brother is a defender for Lovech and on casual viewing; it did appear Milanov was getting up and down the pitch like a man possessed. Thankfully, we quickly realised there were actually two of him on the pitch.
In July, he was snagged by CSKA Moscow for a reported €3.75 million; an absolute steal. Since then, the Russian side were smart about introducing Milanov to the first team; taking their time about introducing him to the starting line-up and using him off the bench quite often. He’s featured in the majority of the league matches and been a part of each of their four Champions League group games so far.
Georgi has made the step up in level seamlessly, buoyed by a string of promising performances for Bulgaria at international level. He’s even laid on a couple of goals. He’s yet to get a consistent run at the heart of the midfield and has instead been playing across the midfield; fitting around the more established stars of the team, Keisuke Honda and Alan Dzagoev.
That run of games will come as the season progresses. He’s new to the club and the country, and with CSKA Moscow having their sights on silverware at the end of the season, manager Leonid Slutsky will know the right time to allow Georgi to shine.
2014 should be an exciting time for Milanov and should very well see him settle into a consistent place in the Moscow team. He’ll get more and more game time as he continues to improve in Russia and right now, it’s not hurting him to be spending time in training with the likes of Honda, Dzagoev and Zoran Tosic. He’s still learning and still developing his game.
Within 12 months however, he’ll want to be a regular in the starting line-up and not just the squad. We expect Keisuke Honda won’t be at the club this time next year. It looked for all the world that he was set for a move to Italy in the summer. Assuming he plays as well as he has been in the build-up to the World Cup; there is no way he’ll be left alone by the clubs in Europe’s “bigger” leagues.
Honda’s departure will be Milanov’s chance. He can take Honda’s regular place, having been allowed time to settle into the Russian culture and start to lead the team. He’ll still need a “passer” alongside him as he is at his best when he is allowed to push on and break beyond the lone striker at times.
Once he does that, it’ll alone be a matter of time before Stilian Petrov’s prediction comes true. Petrov, a player with more caps for Bulgaria than any other, earmarked Milanov as his “successor” at the heart of The Lions’ side a couple of years. Regular football in the Russian Premier League and growing confidence should see the national team’s captaincy follow soon after.
"Had a difficult start at CSKA but absolutely miles ahead of anyone else in Bulgaria last season. A midfielder with a genuine knack for goalscoring beginning to find his feet in Russia, Milanov could become a huge star." - Jeff Livingstone, IBWM
"Milanov is a bright young talent in a team that has resisted buying the big names its rivals go for. His opportunities at CSKA have been limited due to the presence of Keisuke Honda, but when the Japanese star leaves, they have a capable replacement. He's finding his feet in the Russian league, but even in his appearances so far there have been glimpses of the talent that saw him net one in four in Bulgaria. A shrewd buy by Leonid Slutsky, don't be surprised to see the former Litex man breaking forward from midfield and grabbing plenty of goals for the Army Men in the future." - Robert Dillon, More Than Arshavin
"In 2012/13 Bulgarian A PFG, Georgi Milanov (16 goals) was the only midfielder to reach double figures." - Opta
C+ Get settled in and become a star in Russia