Pavel Pogrebnyak: Everything Reading Fans Should Know About The Fulham Star

Reading have offered £13million and are prepared to smash the wage structure for the Russian striker - here's why it's a cracking idea.
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Reading have offered £13million and are prepared to smash the wage structure for the Russian striker - here's why it's a cracking idea.

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Pavel Pogrebnyak: Everything Reading Fans Should Know About The Fulham Star

Pavel Pogrebnyak has been on the radar of premier league managers up and down the country ever since his Zenit team were crowned UEFA Cup champions in 2008. He was linked heavily with moves to England before opting to join VfB Stuttgart in the summer of 2009, where despite starting brightly failed in his task of filling the boots vacated by Mario Gomez.

Scoring a total of 22 goals in 90 appearances for the South German club failed to convince those in charge with Stuttgart securing the services of proven Bundesliga goal grabber Vedad Ibisevic in January and with it casting the Russian a vote of no confidence. ‘The long term dream’ of the striker is now a reality and the general consensus that he was tailor made for the English top flight looks at this early stage to be holding up, but lest we forget the path trodden from Russia to England has been a treacherous one in recent times despite signs of early promise.

Born in Moscow in 1983 Pogrebnyak played for Spartak until 2005, spending the majority of his time being loaned to various Russian Premier League clubs until a permanent move to Tom Tomsk gave the striker a steady platform to impress. After an encouraging campaign scoring 13 goals he was signed by Zenit St Petersburg after just one season. Pogrebnyak spearheaded Zenit’s attack for two trophy laden campaigns, winning the Russian Premier League, the Russian Super Cup, the UEFA cup and the UEFA Super cup.

‘The long term dream’ of the striker is now a reality and the general consensus that he was tailor made for the English top flight looks at this early stage to be holding up

He really came to the world’s attention however during Zenit’s historic European cup run in 2007/08, with his performance and two goals against Bayern Munich in the semi final second leg disposing of the Bavarians and setting up a final against Rangers. Pogrebnyak after all but securing his team’s final place missed the showpiece due to suspension as Zenit outclassed Rangers to win their first European trophy, Pogrebnyak finished the tournament as top goal scorer. The striker’s misfortune continued as he picked up a knee injury in a friendly just before the start of Euro 2008, after being named in Guus Hiddink’s provisional squad his position in the team went to the Spurs bound Roman Pavlyuchenko as Russia produced some of the finest moments in the competition.

With 5 goals in his first 6 appearances for Fulham including a hat-trick against Wolves Martin Jol has spoke of his ‘gamble paying off’ with the striker reluctant to answer questions regarding his future and a permanent move to West London. He will no doubt be aware of the varying levels of success enjoyed by his countrymen in the English Premier League, with the recent Russian exodus of three international team mates not exactly reassuring in your first week in a new league.

With 5 goals in his first 6  appearances for Fulham including a hat-trick against Wolves Martin Jol has spoke of his ‘gamble paying off’

All three joined the Premier League following Russia’s scintillating displays in the European championships in Switzerland and Austria in 2008, but much like their national team Arshavin and Bilyaletdinov burned bright upon arrival but failed to maintain the same form and intensity throughout their stay. Pavlyuchenko was in and out of the Tottenham team, only ever showing flashes of his undoubted ability. It could be argued, certainly in Arshavin’s case, that Pogrebnyak hasn’t the same natural ability to fall back on and he has got to where he is through hard graft and dedication thus making such a sudden decline less likely.

With his contract up at Stuttgart in the summer it could spark a most unlikely scramble for a player that before February had scored just one league goal.

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