Football authorities in Armenia have denied any contact with teenage Russian soccer star Arsen Zakharyan, after claims he was considering acquiring Armenian citizenship ahead of a potential move to English Premier League side Chelsea.
Zakharyan, 19, was set to join Chelsea during the summer transfer window, but a deal fell through due to reported issues with Russia sanctions and difficulty transferring the €15m payment ( $15.4 million) to Zakharyan’s current club Dynamo Moscow.
Chelsea and Dynamo would have a “verbal agreement” in place to return to the agreement in January.
Chelsea keep tabs on Russian wonderkid – media
Ahead of the reopening of the transfer window in early 2023, football journalist Hrach Khachatryan claimed that Zakharyan was considering claiming Armenian citizenship.
“Arsen Zakharyan is considering applying for Armenian citizenship. This is almost certainly due to his potential transfer in January,” Khachatryan tweeted.
“However, there is also a chance that FIFA will make an exception and let him represent the Armenia national team instead of Russia.”
🚨Arsen Zakharyan is considering applying for Armenian citizenship. This is almost certainly due to his potential transfer in January. However, it’s also possible that FIFA will make an exception and let him represent the Armenia national team instead of Russia.#Armenia#CFCpic.twitter.com/VLlNzdqn40
— Hrach Khachatryan (@hrachoff) September 22, 2022
Zakharyan, born in Samara, played four times for the senior Russian national team.
He became his country’s youngest outfield player at the age of 18 years, three months and six days when he made his debut in a World Cup qualifier against Croatia last September.
Even though he has Armenian roots, Zakharyan’s performances for Russia would normally prevent him from swapping teams internationally.
However, sports lawyer Mikhail Prokopets told Match TV Russia that in the current climate of bans imposed on all Russian teams by FIFA and UEFA – which this week was confirmed to include Euro 2024 – he could not rule out exceptions.
“We cannot now speak with confidence about how FIFA will behave. We understand that the Russian national team, at least until the middle of 2024, until the end of Euro 2024, will not play not in official international matches,” said Prokopets.
Elsewhere, a press officer for the Football Federation of Armenia denied that the organization had been in contact with the youngster.
“The Football Association of Armenia, firstly, does not comment on the publications of individual journalists”, press secretary Hayk Karapetyan told Match TV.
“Secondly, we assure once again that we have not contacted Arsen Zakharyan regarding the change of nationality.”
Zakharyan was expected to add to his national team appearances in Russia’s friendly against Kyrgyzstan in Bishkek on Saturday, although he pulled out of the squad with a knee injury.
The playmaker, who regularly features on lists of the world’s most exciting young football talents, has featured nine times for Dynamo in the Russian Premier League so far this season, scoring once and providing two assists.
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