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Maxim Mitrofanov: We’ve met our transfer goals

Maxim Mitrofanov, Zenit’s General Director, spoke about the results of Zenit’s summer transfer campaign in an interview with "Our Zenit" newspaper.

– The results are positive overall, – says Maxim Mitrofanov. – We said back in the winter that objectively the team needs to be strengthened. We stated those positions that needed to be filled, and have been filled now. So from the point of view of the team’s sporting talent we can say that Zenit is complete today. In that sense we’ve accomplished our goals.

– We’re there any delayed purchases as part of the summer transfer campaign that we’ll find out about this winter?
– As far as filling out the team goes, all the positions have been filled with those players who completely suit the head coach. As for the winter, clearly the team has to keep developing. A lot will depend on the head coach’s views though. That doesn’t mean that we’re not planning to make Zenit stronger. But let’s wait for this season to end, and start to prepare for next season, which may be a transitional season if Russia decides to switch to a “fall-spring” schedule... We’ll fulfill the new tasks that we have next winter when the time comes. If we return to the last winter campaign, I think it was done very well and carefully. It was done precisely, as they say. Considering that the new coach just met the team, there were no extremely big new purchases. But Kerzhakov’s return to the team and the invitation of Lazovic were steps that helped Zenit to play well in the first half of the Russian Premier League this year.

– In one of your recent interviews you said: "We took a loan in order to buy Bruno Alves. Tell us more about that if possible.
– The club remained within its financial plan during the summer transfer campaign. That said, we had to use borrowed money to fulfill our plans. We used the borrowed money to buy Bruno Alves, for example. We took a commercial loan in Gazprombank for that. Yes, on the one hand that’s one of our main shareholders. On the other hand, the three-year loan was borrowed on a commercial basis. Furthermore, let’s not forget that we didn't pay the whole sum for Alves up front. We are paying for him in three payments over the next three years.

– Zenit loaned out Anton Sosnin and Michael Lumb in the summer transfer period. Did the club do this in the best interest of the young players to give them more playing time?
– Most of all the club did that for itself and its own interests. One of our main tasks is to raise young players. Even if they can't play for Zenit's main side, we still need to give them playing time. In this case we’re talking about playing in the highest divisions of various countries. So it’s critical to loan the players, rather than sell them. But we’re not loaning them because Zenit doesn’t need them. Just the opposite. We understand that these players have a bright future: at this stage they should grow, and that means they need constant playing practice. If we talk about Lumb, we bought him from the start as a promising player for the future. We watched him for half a year, and we’re sure that he’s a good player. We’re sure that we made the right decision to buy him. But it was still hard for him to make Zenit’s starting side. That’s why we loaned him to Feyenoord, where he should be one of the main footballers in the club. A year from now he’ll return to Zenit as a better footballer.

– You weren’t able to loan Huszti to an English club?
– Obviously, Huszti isn’t exactly satisfied with his playing time right now. But he’s a strong player who’s able to help the team, including coming off the bench. So I wouldn’t say that we really wanted to loan him out, or that English clubs are very interested in him. Moreover, we didn’t conduct any specific negotiations with English teams about him.

– Which negotiations were the most difficult?
– All of the transfers we made were difficult, since each new Zenit player was a main key to his previous team. Nobody wants to lose such players too easily. So we had difficult and long negotiations for each player. On the other hand, we knew exactly who we wanted to buy and under what conditions. And in the end we got what we wanted. So we can consider all of our transfers to have been successful.

– Bruno Alves has said that he himself wanted to move to Zenit. Did you get that sense when you bought Alves, and the other players?
– All the footballers we purchased said they wanted to play for Zenit. And if there old teams sold them, that means they were ready to do so. On the other hand, the players showed their old clubs that it would be better to let them go, if their hearts and football thinking are with us. Furthermore, the goals and tasks that our club set had a strong influence on the situation