Foreign Players in Ukraine-Russia; Some Have Moved out, Others Opt to Stay

Several foreign players in Ukraine-Russia managed to move out abroad due to the invasion in Ukraine. Surprisingly others have opted to stay.

In the midst of Russian invasion, FIFA granted foreign players in Ukraine-Russia the opportunity to temporarily suspend their contracts with their current clubs and allowed them to join other teams abroad for the sake of their careers at least till the end of 2021-22 season. Players in the Ukraine Premier League definitely welcome this adjustment since their league has been halted for months. However, players in Russia do not exactly share the same view as their domestic competition is still ongoing. Although FIFA gave the players permission to do so, some of them still prefer to remain in Russia. This is despite the looming sanctions from the world and European football governing bodies.

The moves and transfer deals had to be finalized by April 7th, at the latest. Unfortunately, three of the five European top leagues on UEFA Coefficient ranks, the English Premier League, German Bundesliga and Italian Serie A were not in favour of another transfer window. Only Spanish La Liga and French Ligue 1 were open to adopting that policy. Here are some of the notable foreign players in Ukraine-Russia top flights who managed to sign for new clubs and those who are staying.

Not All Foreign Players in Ukraine-Russia Take the Same Steps during the Invasion

Those who Switch Sides

After FIFA tweaked the transfer regulation, a number of notable players in both the Ukrainian and Russian Premier Leagues took advantage of the opportunity to switch sides. Some were able to secure a permanent move, while others could only sign on loan for the new club, meaning they would return to their parent clubs on June 30.

Sweden international, Viktor Claesson is one of the few who left Russia for good. The former FC Krasnodar winger signed for FC Copenhagen. Claesson has been the key figure in Blagut since qualifying for World Cup 2018 and EURO 2020. His teammate, Remy Cabella also managed to sign with his former side, Montpellier, without any obligation to return in June. Two Shakhtar Donetsk men, Detinho and Junior Moraes also could also leave Ukraine by signing for Ceara and Corinthias respectively on free transfers.

Their teammate, Tete, however, is still tied up with a long-term contract. Therefore, the 22-year-old Brasilian opted to join Lyon on loan. The same issue happens to two Polish internationals in Gregorz Krychowiak and Tomasz Kedziora. They decided to move to AEK Athens and Lech Poznan temporarily. Meanwhile, Georgian winger Rubin Kazan’s Kvhicha Kvaratskhelia returned to his former club, Dinamo Batumi at the end of March. This is despite having two years remaining on his contract. Ideally, he should be going back to Kazan at some point. Yet, the 21-year-old versatile winger is reportedly in talks with Napoli for a summer move. He previously terminated his contract with the Russian side.

Those who Choose to Stay

Surprisingly, plenty of foreign players in the Russian Premier League have chosen to stay. It is still unclear whether they do so because of the ‘threat’ from their teams, failure to seal a new deal or simply their own personal decisions. The likes of two Brasilian internationals who helped Selecao win the gold medal in the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympic Games, Claudinho and the former Barcelona man, Malcolm; Croatian internationals Tin Jedvaj or Ligue 1 winner 2021 Yusuf Yazici are still playing for Zenit St.Petersburg, Lokomotiv and CSKA Moscow respectively this season.

Spartak Moscow forward Quincy Promes is not likely to leave Russia. He faces allegations of involvement in a homicide case back in the Netherlands. Spartak’s local contender Dynamo Moscow managed to convince Diego Laxalt and Fabio Balbuena to stay put. They have been the key figures in their impressive domestic campaign in the 2021-22 season. Dynamo sits second on the table, just three points behind Zenit on top.

Last but not least, these two names might have been unfortunate. Victor Moses and Dejan Lovren were eyed by Burnley and West Ham, for a short-term loan in March. Unfortunately, their move was blocked by the Premier League due to sporting integrity reasons. Thus, the Nigerian winger and former Liverpool defender have no other option but to stay with Spartak and Zenit respectively.


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