In “Le Havre” with his head: for which Daler Kuzyaev agreed to a salary almost six times lower than in “Zenith”


The financial possibilities of a newcomer to League 1 are quite modest. The contracts offered there are not comparable to those offered not only by Paris Saint-Germain, but also by Lyon, Marseille or Nice. And who was in the St. Petersburg “Zenith”.

Fakes from the shores of the Bosphorus

In the French press, the salary of Kuzyaev, who signed a two-year contract, is estimated at 350,000 euros per season. In “Zenith”, taking into account bonuses, he had more than 2 million. And yet, as it seems to many, he left for a fall. Given the high competition in the French championship, Le Havre has not so many chances to break into European competition.

The team from the port city in Normandy, which is called the sea gate of Paris, has just got out of a serious financial hole. Mathieu Bodmer (a French football legend who has played more than 400 matches in Ligue 1), who came to the post of sports director last summer, has assembled an interesting team led by Slovenian coach Luka Elsner. Le Havre needed a leader, and the club’s management sees Kuzyaev as such.

At the rookie presentation, Bodmer emphasized that Daler is a versatile player who can play in several positions. And he emphasized that, having the experience of playing for the club dominating the championship of Russia, Kuzyaev sought to find a new challenge. Three years ago, Daler was already trying to find a job in one of the European leagues.

The agents who joined this process assured that clubs from Spain, Italy, Turkey and Scotland were interested in it. Only as a result, in October, when the Russian championship had already started a long time ago, Kuzyaev extended the agreement with Zenit. It seemed that now the situation will repeat itself.

The interest in the midfielder of Zenit, whose contract was expiring, was announced by the Turkish Besiktas. The leaders of the Istanbul club, which really wants to get Gazprom as a sponsor, assured that signing a contract with Kuzyaev was a matter of a few days. It just didn’t get to the point of being signed. There were even vicious comments in the Turkish press. Like, Daler is using Besiktas to get a new contract at Zenit on more favorable terms.

Transfers love silence

The option with Le Havre turned out to be a complete surprise not only for Russian insiders who delight the media either with information from “sources familiar with the situation” or outright fakes, but also for French journalists. They expected to see Kuzyaev in another Ligue 1 team, Toulouse. Only the father of the football player, the famous St. Petersburg coach Adyam Kuzyaev, did everything not to repeat the mistakes of three years ago.

“About the interest of Le Havre in Daler three weeks before the signing of the contract, I was informed by friends living in one of the Balkan countries,” Adyam Kuzyaev told the correspondent of MK in St. Petersburg. “We did everything in our power to keep the information from leaking to the press. Transfers love silence. We must pay tribute to the representatives of the French club, who were immediately set up for constructive negotiations. We saw interest in Daler from the sports director and head coach of the club.”

So what about the loss of money? At Zenit, where Kuzyaev has been playing since the summer of 2017, he was the highest paid Russian football player. It should be noted that those who fit into the team better than others, which Artem Dzyuba ironically prescribed in Rio de Janeiro. The versatile midfielder easily found a common language with the Brazilian legionnaires and really could close several positions at once.

From the lips of many football players, you can often hear that the sports age is short and you need to have time to earn money for the rest of your life. As the hero of the Soviet film comedy said, no one canceled the money. Only Kuzyaev seems to be from a different category. Having earned a good start-up capital on the football field, he also received a good education, which allows him to invest funds wisely. Graduated from the St. Petersburg State University of Economics with a degree in management of public and private enterprises, continued his postgraduate studies.

At Zenit, Kuzyaev was considered one of the best English speakers among Russian football players. Already in Le Havre, Daler confirmed this reputation. At the presentation, he easily answered the questions of local journalists. While still in St. Petersburg, Kuzyaev took up the study of the Spanish language. Now, of course, switched to French. Spends an hour every day in class. There is no doubt that the language barrier will not become an obstacle for Daler when adapting to a new country.

A cheeky team from the sister city

Many Russian experts believe that Le Havre should be just a stepping stone to a more prestigious club. The footballer’s father, who accompanied him to the presentation, did not agree with this opinion.

“We really liked the attitude of the leaders of the club,” Adyam Kuzyaev told the correspondent of MK in St. Petersburg. — Le Havre is a young and ambitious team that sets itself serious goals. The French Ligue 1 is a strong championship, which has all the opportunities for professional growth. I do not rule out that for Daler, Le Havre will become the same native team as Zenit.

And the name of the street on which the Le Havre stadium is located will remind you of St. Petersburg. It’s called… Leningradskaya. There is a port city and Kronstadt. Back in the 60s of the last century, Leningrad and Le Havre became sister cities. On the alley leading from the metro station to the Gazprom Arena, among the memorable signs there is one dedicated to Le Havre. Well, Gavrskaya Street in St. Petersburg is located not far from the Zenith base.

In the 1980s, the SCC, which then bore the name of V. I. Lenin, hosted a tournament of sister cities in the winter. In 1989, Le Havre also took part in it, taking third place. As part of Zenit, young Boris Matveev and Dmitry Radchenko made their debut at that tournament. Guests from France managed to play with the hosts in a draw. This was only the second time in the history of the Twin Cities Tournament. Zenit won all other matches, and Le Havre repeated the achievement of Zagreb Dynamo.

Dziuba is not a decree for us

Skeptics who criticize Kuzyaev for “treason” predict him big problems associated with adaptation in unusual conditions. They give an example of Artem Dzyuba, who went to Turkey in the status of a Russian football star, and returned just a couple of months later, terminating the contract and criticizing everyone who did not appreciate his talent. Although the “Locomotive” is still in sight. As in the Russian media space.

Only Kuzyaev is not Dzyuba. Rather, he can be compared with Magomed Ozdoev, who, after leaving Zenit, gradually adapted to the Turkish championship. Throughout his career, Daler has been accustomed to literally gnaw out a place in the composition. After graduating from the Zenith Academy, he was not taken to any team of masters. The young footballer kept in shape by playing for one of the teams in the St. Petersburg championship. Then he ended up in the Petrozavodsk “Karelia”, which was coached by his father. He played for her only one season, after which this club was disbanded.


At one time, Adyam Kuzyaev played in Nizhnekamsk and, with the help of his acquaintances from Tatarstan, sent his son to Rubin Kazan for a trial. The pupil of St. Petersburg football made a good impression on Kurban Berdyev, who coached this team, but he did not see a place in the squad for him. Sent for practice in Nizhnekamsk “Neftekhimik”.

Only in Grozny, not yet in Akhmat, but in Terek, Daler Kuzyaev crossed paths with the coach who helped him believe in himself and declare himself in Russian football – Rashid Rakhimov. He blessed the midfielder to move to Zenit. And when Daler was matched to the national team of Tajikistan (not only his father played in Dushanbe, but also his grandfather, and the family left the republic after the start of the civil war there), Rakhimov, a pupil of Dushanbe football, dissuaded Kuzyaev.

“Daler is a guy who is not afraid of competition,” the current head coach of Rubin said in a long-standing interview with the author of these notes. – If there are stronger players in the team where he comes, Kuzyaev will only grow next to them. Going to Zenit was a step forward for him. I had no doubt that he would play in the Russian national team.”

And now, despite the exclamations of experts that the player of the Russian national team exchanged the national champion for a provincial French team, Daler considers the transition to Le Havre a step forward.

“Kuzyaev’s desire to try his hand at the championship, which is in the top 5 in Europe, is respected,” Alexander Gorshkov, who coached Daler at the Zenit academy in his last year of study, told MK in St. Petersburg correspondent. – I can’t say that the Le Havre recruit has always dreamed of playing for a European club. Rather, I just wanted to break into professional football.”

At least Kuzyaev took the first step. And now he will probably try to prove that football is not only about money. This is also a game that should give pleasure not only to sponsors, but also to ordinary fans.

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