Kirill Kotov: «We want people who will fight for Lokomotiv»

Kirill Kotov: «We want people who will fight for Lokomotiv»
Head of Selection Department of Lokomotiv Kirill Kotov explained the Railwaymen's scouting principles.
- What is «selection department»? How many people work there and what do they do?
- It's me and my four colleagues. We sniff out talented players many of whom are unknown to the world. Sure, we don't only watch their videos and stats on the Net, but also go abroad to watch them playing live. This happens only if we already know something about them, like them and are interested in their services.
- What does the player search employ?
- First of all we look at what position needs to be improved in Lokomotiv. For example, now we are seaching for a central attacking midfielder. After we've discussed it with the head coach, we make a list of 15-17 names which is later narrowed to 5. These five shortlisted names are arranged according to their qualities, so we get Plan A, B, C, D and E.
- Since you joined Lokomotiv, about 15 players came to the club. Who of them were Plan A people?
- Almost all of them were As, just a few - Bs. We have never got as far as C, thank God!
- Was there ever a situation when you saw a guy in just one game and said: «He's some talent! We must buy him!»?
- Almost always when you watch a game on a computer you understand you have to see it live. So if we are interested in a certain player we watch at least 3 games with him, and we ask Bilic's advice anyway. He knows the European market A to Z, he used to be the head coach of the Croatia national team and he saw many players himself. Usually we watch a player closely for at least half-a-year, not less.
- What's the biggest bait for a foreign player in Russia, except money?
- Club's ambitions. Infrastructure. We are not only timely paid, we have a perfect compound, working conditions. From a simple manager to the president - all work for the club's great future.
- Who was your most difficult signing?
- I think, Pavlyuchenko. Not because of him, but because of Tottenham's president Daniel Levi. Although I can understand him, he wants to gain a bigger profit for his club. But this extended the final stage of the talks to 3-4 days. We sealed the deal at 3 or 4 a.m. Moscow time!
- How many times did you decide not to sign a young talent because of his bad temper?
- About ten times. I remember we wanted to buy a very talented guy but soon found out he ran into a statue driving a car in a big European city. Of course, he was drunk.
- Hey, how do you know this personal information?
- It's easy. We have a lot of friends in Europe, and footballers are public prople. So it's easy to sniff out even smallest odds about this or that player's character and way of life.
- How many players refuse to move to Lokomotiv because they do not want to go to Russia?
- 30-40 per cent. Take Chelsea forward Demba Ba. We nosed around when he was in West Ham, before moving to Newcastle. The same can be said about his fellow striker Papiss Cisse who still plays for the Magpies. And Diego, too.
- So they were no mere rumors you were going to buy Diego from Wolfsburg?
- We were going to buy Diego, it's true. We came to an agreement with Wolfsburg, but the very last moment Diego refused to go to Russia.

Caicedo Is Better Than Vagner

- Who is your most successful acquisition?
- There's a number of them: Tigorev, Grigoriev... I'm not mentioning the well-known players. It goes without saying Caicedo and N'Doye are successful deals.
- Well, Caicedo is not that obvious.
- I went to see Felipe myself. He's a top-level forward. Caicedo is the best striker in Russia.
- Are you joking?
- No. When Felipe's in good form and highly motivated he doesn't have problems with any single defender in the RFPL. I do believe he's better that Doumbia or Vagner.
- Has a player ever been bought without the concern of your department? Corluka, for example. It's clear as a day Bilic wanted him and there was no point in watching him play.
- You're wrong. We'd been following Corluka for a year. And I stress it - before Bilic came to the club. Vedran is not Bilic's man. Of course, when Slaven found out we want Vedran, he said yes. But that's all. Corluka was our Plan A for the central defender position.
- Does it kill you to see Burak Yilmaz netting goals for Galatasaray in the Champions League? Half-a-year back, Lokomotiv refused to sign a contract with him.
- Not in the least. We want people who want to play in Lokomotiv, who want to fight for it. We don't need cash-hungry mercenaries. I'm sorry to say Yilmaz made the impression of the latter.
When the Turk arrived in Podgorje where we were on the training camp, he asked for inadequately big salary per game and huge bonuses. He talked like, hi, how much are you going to pay me and how often?! That was all we heard from him! The guy didn't give a damn about where he was going to play, where he was going to train etc. We don't need people like him.
- Have another big club ever offered a better contract to a player you were about to sign?
- Yes. I'll be honest: it sill annoys me we didn't buy Mertens, Defour or Witsel.
- Witsel?!
- That's right. Back in 2011 we could have bought all these players. But Mertens chose PSV, and it was a big shock for us. Defour and Witsel are both my personal tragedy. Then they both, together with Carcela-Gonzalez, played for «Standard» from Liege. I was just one of the managers in the Selection Department then, and I went to watch four games of this team live. And I saw how talented these guys are and that they can grow into real professionals and their playing style fitted Lokomotiv perfectly. But alas, Defour chose Porto, and Witsel went to Benfica.
- But did Lokomotiv made an offer?
- Of course we did. The president of Standard told us the price he wanted for them, and it suited us.
- Oh, so Defour and Witsel didn't want to go to Lokomotiv?
- No. Both Steven and Axel wanted to join Loko. But in the end of the day we couldn't make a deal because of the things that didn't depend on us.

Lokomotiv Have No Offers On Glushakov

- Do you have a «non-aggression pact» with other Russian clubs?
- No.
- Let's move to Lokomotiv's main transfer saga, then: is there any specific offer on Glushakov on Olga Smorodskaya's table?
- No. It hasn't come to any real offer on Denis yet. Neither from Zenit, nor from Spartak, nor from anyone else.
- How much money do you want for Glushakov?
- It's written in his contract.
- 20 millions?
- No comment.
- Is it true you sold Eschenko, a member of Russia national team, for just a million euros?
- Of course not. But no further comments, please.
- Okay, another burning issue, then: when will Lokomotiv finally buy a central attacking midfielder?
- I hope this will happen soon. The list of candidates is constantly narrowing down. I hope the transfer will occur at some point close to the second training camp.
- And it won't be Hleb or Rakitic?
- Just right. The story with Rakitic is totally out of nowhere. Probably, his agents launched the rumors, knowing that Lokomotiv are searching for a central midfielder.
- Did you really have no interest in Hleb? Why did he say Lokomotiv were negotiating with him and that Bilic is persuading him to move to Russia...
- Hleb has never had and will not have any relation to Lokomotiv whatsoever. I have no idea why he started talking we wanted to buy him. The club had no official communication with him. Hleb doesn't suit us at all.
- Is your Plan A - a player from Europe?
- Yes. It's a pity, but there're no good central attacking midfielders available in Russia. Good Russian players are all signed on.
- Are Lokomotiv going to buy anyone else?
- We have Vitaly Denisov, then we'll find a midfielder and that will be it.
- Why did Lokomotiv brought back Yanbaev?
- We need a Russian defender. Limit's still there, you know. Of all Loko wing backs only Shishkin holds a Russian passport.
- Tell us why Dame N'Doye won't become another Djibi Fall?
- We had no fear at all when we were trading over Dame. I cannot even compare N'Doye and Fall. They are completely different. Talks over Dame were easy because he'd highly motivated and wants to reach new level with Lokomotiv.
- Is Pavlyuchenko staying in Lokomotiv?
- Yes. Roman is a real man and a real professional. We need him.

- Don't you think there's no such thing as teh «Sychev problem»? Maybe it is that the guy's better days are gone and we overestimate him?
- I believe it's a matter of phycology. Sychev has all the qualities a good striker needs. And believe me - his ambitions are still okay.
- Isn't it better so loan him to another club?
- Bilic stressed it he needs four strikers in the team, and Dima along with N'Doye, Pavlyuchenko and Caicedo is among them.

Let Them Talk

- Here's a question that worries many fans even more than the team's results: how did Kirill Kotov became the head of the Selection Department?
- Kirill Kotov was invited to work in Lokomotiv Selection Department in early 2011 by the then head Alexey zinin. Later Zinin left, and Olga Smorodskaya offered me to become his successor.
- Was it before or after you married Smorodskaya's daughter?
- Before. I understand what you're hinting at, and I know what many people say about me. They think I got this position because the club's president is my mother-in-law. Well, let them talk, I don't care. Judge a man by his deeds. Can you remember at least one 100% unsuccessful transfer, with me in this position?
- Ziegler. An absolutely featureless player...
- Reto is a good player. But the fact that he missed the off-season training camps and dropped out of the team's rhythm did its job. That was the reason why Reto conldn't demonstrate all his abilities.
- And one more thing before we finish: why do our scouts prefer to search for the new players abroad?
- Because we lost a lot of time here. I remember those years well. Once when I was a young athlete we had a training session right in the hall of the Dynamo Stadium. Among the old columns. Of course, that generation is lost to football.

But now the infrastructure's getting better. I believe soon we at Lokomotiv will be able to provide our own home-grown talents. In our U-18 team there're 7-8 players who have potential to make it to the main team. Because these guys are incredibly talented.

30 January 2013

Tags: котов кирилл

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