After February 24 last year, there are hardly any football fans in Ukraine who show interest in games “beyond the curb”. Even the recent news that the St. Petersburg “Zenith” won the local championship for the tenth time in history was filed by Sport.ua exclusively in the context that it continues to “work hard” in this club, but in fact just get dirty Gazprom money, there is no time one of the legends of Ukrainian football, and now an outright outcast Anatoly Tymoshchuk.
However, there are other players in the Russian Premier League with a foreign passport who, after the start of the full-scale phase of the Russian-Ukrainian war, did not dare to use FIFA’s permission to leave for any foreign club. Perhaps, the main renegade of the superb championship is the 26-year-old Brazilian Malcolm, who plays in the ranks of the same “zenith”.
Unlike, for example, the young center forward Yuri Alberto, who did not want to continue playing in the Erefia championship and, first on loan, and then on a full-fledged basis, pushed the Zenit to leave for Corinthians, Malcolm decided to stay in the swamps, although it had the most detrimental effect on his career. From a sporting point of view. Indeed, if we take into account the financial, then the Brazilian absolutely did not lose here – at the “zenith” he receives 7 million euros a year, being the highest paid player in the swamp championship …
Getty Images/Global Images Ukraine. Malcolm
Malcolm moved to Zenit back in August 2019. Then the St. Petersburg club paid Barcelona a record 40 million euros for the transfer of the Brazilian (the same amount had previously been paid by the Gazprom project for only two players – Hulk and Axel Witsel), but the first season in Russia turned out to be absolutely unsuccessful for the legionnaire due to injury, and the next two also did not become some kind of phenomenon – only 11 goals and 11 assists in 45 fights.
Despite this, in Brazil, Malcolm was not forgotten. So, in the summer of 2021, the winger took part in the Olympic Games in Tokyo, and together with the Brazilians won a football tournament and even became the author of the decisive goal in extra time in the final confrontation with Spain (2:1).
Some time after the triumph at the 2020 Olympics, Malcolm received a call to the Brazilian national team to participate in the qualifying matches for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. However, the Zenit leadership went against the plans of the Brazilian Football Confederation and recalled Malcolm, along with his other player Claudinho, from the location of the national team.
“The players constantly received messages from the “Zenith”, forcing them to return to Russia. We explained to the players that they are not threatened with any sanctions that Zenith threatens, based on FIFA rules. However, they decided to return to Russia after discussing the situation with coach Tite. We express our disagreement with the actions of the “Zenith” and sent an official complaint to FIFA, attaching the documents sent by the Russian confederation club and the athletes. We turned to FIFA so that all the sanctions that threaten Zenith would be applied in accordance with the rules, ”the Brazilian Football Confederation said at the time.
Their actions then at the zenith were justified by the fact that St. Petersburg had to play the Champions League match against Chelsea on the road, and due to the covid restrictions in the UK that existed at that time for the countries of the “red zone” (this included, in particular , South America), Malcolm’s participation in the duel turned out to be impossible, which negatively affected the plans and capabilities of Gazprom’s football flagship.
As a result, Malcolm was never able to realize, perhaps, the main dream of any Brazilian boy starting to play football professionally – to make his debut for the national team. The Brazilian Football Confederation nevertheless complained to FIFA and achieved … as much as a five-day (!) disqualification of Malcom, but the worst thing for the player was something else – after that incident, he was never called to the Selesao again.
Getty Images/Global Images Ukraine. Malcolm
Going to meet the leadership of the “Zenith” (or afraid of the threats coming from this club), Malcolm actually closed the door to the Brazilian national team for himself. But, having remained in the erefiya after the start of the full-scale phase of the Russian-Ukrainian war, the winger seems to have now also given up the opportunity to achieve something significant in his career, even at club level.
And this despite the fact that the 2022/23 season is becoming the most successful and bright in Malcolm’s career – at least in terms of performance. In 27 matches of the Russian Premier League that have been played to date, the Brazilian scored 23 goals and 7 assists. However, these successes of Malcolm run the risk of being completely unnoticed and underestimated in the civilized football world, which has protected itself as much as possible from aggressive Russia and after February 24, 2022, tries not to deal with it.
In January of this year, information flashed in the media that Paris Saint-Germain was interested in Malcom’s services. The Parisians did not negotiate too hard, but rather wanted to take the opportunity to fish oily fish out of troubled waters. However, at the Zenith, they rolled out a price tag for the Brazilian of 30 million euros, which PSG considered too high an amount, especially against the background of the fact that Malcolm does not play in the Champions League, because all Russian professional football was suspended from European competitions due to the unleashed on the territory of the sovereign Ukraine unprovoked bloodshed.
Obviously, realizing the entire “depth of depths” in which Malcolm found himself, in September last year, the football player allegedly on his own initiative (it’s easy to guess that it came from the leadership of the Zenith) filed an application for Russian citizenship. After that, in January 2023, as mentioned above, the Brazilian’s transfer to Europe first failed, and in February, by a special decree of the head of the Kremlin regime, Malcom became a citizen of Erefia.
Getty Images/Global Images Ukraine. Malcolm
In addition, in the summer of last year, Malcolm also extended his contract with Zenit for five years, until June 30, 2027. All this makes the winger virtually a hostage to his greed, because now it will be an impossible task for him to leave Russia. First of all, the “zenith” will not want to let go of the attack leader, demanding very large compensation for him, which no one in the world will want to pay, based on the fact that Malcolm is now “cooked” exclusively in the Russian championship, not being able to show his worth in top tournaments in Europe – the Champions League, the Europa League or at least the Conference League.
Not in favor of the option with a possible early departure from the Russian Federation is the fact that Malcolm received the citizenship of this country. And even though, according to FIFA rules, the winger does not have the opportunity to be played for the Erefia national team (for this you need to continuously live in the country for at least five years), in the future they still want to play an ethnic Brazilian for the main team of the swamp. In particular, Muscovy still hopes that they will somehow manage to take part in the qualification for the 2026 World Cup, despite the fact that the final part of this tournament will be held on the territory of “unfriendly states” (that’s what they call them in the swamps) – USA and Canada, which will be accompanied by Mexico.
In general, whatever one may say, Malcolm himself drove himself into a dead end, from which he will now have to get out for a very, very long time. Following the lead of his club, which for more than a year has not been able to offer the footballer anything significant in terms of development from a professional point of view, but is only able to blur his eyes with the number of zeros in the contract, the ethnic Brazilian, who previously played for Bordeaux and Barcelona, and surely able to prove himself in some other iconic European club, is content with a couple of dozen goals scored in a season in the championship, which now is a “gas chamber” closed on all sides, and therefore is of little interest to scouts and breeders.
Well, everyone makes a choice for himself, and then pays for it in full. Malcolm apparently chose Anatoly Tymoshchuk as his idol and role model, who fell under legal sanctions in his homeland and actually became persona non grata there. And even though everything is not as critical with Malcolm in Brazil as with Tymoshchuk in Ukraine, this unfortunate football player will only be able to give his children and grandchildren a couple of bags of dirty Gazprom banknotes (if by that time inflation or some weevils do not devour them) , but the winger will not be able to tell a beautiful story filled with exploits from his sports career. If only because beautiful stories and feats are characteristic of heroes, but not renegades …
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