Zenit St. Petersburg’s Argentine revolution shows no signs of stopping just yet as the Russian league leaders unveiled Matías Kranevitter as Roberto Mancini’s latest signing on Tuesday.
The 24-year-old has been in Russia for the last few days and after completing a medical has signed a four-year deal with Zenit, joining compatriots Leandro Paredes, Sebastián Driussi and Emanuel Mammana.
Kranevitter has struggled for form and playing time since leaving River Plate for Atlético Madrid 18 months ago but there should be no doubting his quality and the coup for Zenit in capturing the midfielder.
Zenit had looked close to completing a deal for Estudiantes’ 20-year-old ball winner, Santiago Ascacibar but it would appear that Kranevitter remained Mancini’s preferred target and as the Copa Libertadores winner edged closer to the Krestovsky Stadium, the move for Ascacibar stalled.
Whether Zenit revive this interest remains to be seen but the midfielder pairing of Kranevitter with Paredes should excit supporters.
Paredes is already proving his worth in Saint Petersburg with Zenit making a 100% start to the season and despite Kranevitter’s stock falling somewhat in Spain, the 24-year-old remains an outstanding defensive midfielder.
El Colo’s fleeting performances under Diego Simeone after joining Atleti in January 2016 and last season’s underwhelming loan at Sevilla have led some to hastily write off Kranevitter but his vital role in a period of great success at River Plate should not be forgotten.
Marcelo Gallardo clearly valued his qualities and during this period Kranevitter also made his Argentina debut, leading to widespread claims that the Tucumán-born midfielder was the natural heir to Javier Mascherano at number five.
An outstanding reader of the game, Kranevitter’s anticipation and tackling drew those comparisons to Mascherano, but there was also a far more dynamic passer of the ball. With an awareness of his teammates and a calmness that is often lacking in young players, Kranevitter was an important first pass forward as River won back possession.
Kranevitter will be hoping that more regular playing time alongside Leandro Paredes will see both in Jorge Sampaoli’s Argentina plans while for Zenit the future looks bright. The four Argentine additions are of undeniable quality and Independiente forward Emiliano Rigoni looks set to join them in the coming days.