Midfielder | AS Monaco | Russia
A midfield trickster boasting the ability to mix moments of fluid elegance with bursts of unrelenting energy.
Not quite Russia’s answer to Lionel Messi, more Andrei Arshavin and Tomasz Rosicky’s bizarre lovechild, who likes to pop a free kick into the onion bag as much as he adores leaving defenders dumbfounded on the counter-attack or clattering into them during a high press.
There’s something enjoyably boyish about the Russian international - he plays with full-bloodedness, fearlessness and ambition, like that kid in your class who’s desperate to prove he’s the best footballer on the playground during every single lunch-break, whether the kickabout lasts five minutes or fifty.
But perhaps then, all things considered, Golovin’s output could be a little greater than what it currently is; all those daring dribbles and cheeky turns have translated to just four goals and four assists in 2018.
2018 has been…
A meteoric rise suddenly halted by a disappointing end to the year. Golovin gained attention outside of Russian top flight admirers when he netted a pearler of a free kick against Arsenal in the Europa League and was arguably the best player on the pitch despite CSKA Moscow getting hammered 4-1. Golovin assisted in the return leg as well, although that wouldn’t be enough to see CSKA through to the next round.
Then came the World Cup, the trigger for every football fan already in full-blown transfer rumour mode to demand on Twitter that Golovin was made their respective club’s new midfield gem. In fairness, performances during the tournament on his home soil proved the 22-year-old had far outgrown the Russian domestic game as the standout talent of their national team, completely destroying Saudi Arabia in an absolute mauling of an opening match - scoring once, setting up two more and orchestrating throughout - before turning heads again in the shock win over Spain.
A move to mainstream European football seemed inevitable, and Golovin’s energy seemed to particularly suit the clubs at the top end of the Premier League. Despite alleged interest from Chelsea and Arsenal though, the midfielder instead found his way to Monaco where life has been surprisingly troubled. Leonardo Jardim was sacked after just nine games, leaving the 2016/17 champions marooned in the relegation zone, and Golovin’s suffered his own struggles too, largely due to a lack of fitness. So far this season, he’s managed only seven Ligue 1 starts.
Monaco still need to get their season back on track and Golovin will be expected to play a key part in that. After a stuttered start to the new campaign individually too, it’s imperative Golovin returns to full fitness and playing his best football as soon as possible. Unfortunately though, Monaco have failed to even make the latter stages of the Europa League this season, let alone the Champions League knockouts, so regular delves into Ligue 1 will be required if you hope to monitor his progress in the coming months.