Alan Dzagoev came into Euro 2012 as a relative unknown but the Russian midfielder’s performances and goals on the biggest stage have already won him plenty of admirers.
The 21-year-old’s goal against Poland was his third in the competition and put him out in front in the race for the Golden Boot award. Players with the ability to score prolifically from midfield are valuable commodities and the fact Dzagoev is in the final year of his contract at CSKA Moscow makes him an even more enticing prospect to potential suitors.
CSKA are understandably keen to tie Dzagoev down to a new deal but may be forced to cash in if the Russian , who has previously admitted an interest in one day joining Chelsea should he move abroad, refuses to sign a contract extension.
However, Chelsea or any other club would be well advised to think very carefully before spending big — either by virtue of a transfer fee or a signing on fee — on a player based solely on his performances in a major international tournament. History is littered with examples of players producing standout displays at international level before flattering to deceive at club level.
For instance, for Dzagoev in Euro 2012, read fellow Russian Andrei Arshavin in Euro 2008. Like Dzagoev, Arshavin was a relative unknown prior to the 2008 finals but emerged as a star during the tournament, producing the standout display in the competition as he inspired Russia to a 3-1 quarter-final victory over the Netherlands.
A £15m move to Arsenal followed the following January and Arshavin started life in north London brightly, the highlight being his breathtaking four goals in the 4-4 draw against Liverpool at Anfield. That, however, was as good as it got.
In Euro 2004 Theo Zagorakis, once of Leicester City, emerged from relative obscurity to be named Player of the Tournament, having helped Greece to a shock victory in the competition. Zagorakis was a free agent at the time and his exploits helped secure him a lucrative deal with Italian outfit Bologna. The move was a disaster though as Bologna were relegated and Zagorakis was released as the club couldn’t afford his wages.
In the same tournament, Czech Republic striker Milan Baros won the Golden Boot. His exploits helped keep him at Liverpool where he won a Champions League medal. Baros’ contribution in Euro 2004 was remembered by David O’Leary and the Aston Villa manager brought him to Villa Park for £6.5m in August 2005. It seemed a good deal for player and club but Baros only scored 14 goals in an underwhelming two seasons at Villa Park.
Euro 2000 saw Yugoslavia striker Savo Milosevic finish joint top scorer alongside Netherlands hitman Patrick Kluivert. Milosevic had previously spent a largely unhappy spell in England with Aston Villa before joining Zaragoza and his form with the Spanish outfit coupled with his five goals in just four games in the Euros was enough to persuade Parma to shell out €25m for his services. It was a decision the Italian side would regret. Milosevic’s first season was respectable enough as he hit the net eight times in 21 games but his second season was little sort of a disaster as he scored just once. Loan spells with former club Zaragoza along with Espanyol and Celta Vigo followed before he Milosevic finally joined Osasuna on a permanent deal in 2004.
Even a manager as shrewd and talented as Alex Ferguson can be tempted to sign the tournament ‘big thing’. Czech midfielder Karel Poborsky started Euro 1996 as an unheralded midfielder with Slavia Prague but his exploits in the finals – the highlight of which was an exquisite lob in the quarter-final victory over Portugal — earned him a dream move to Old Trafford. However, Poborsky was never more than a bit player at Old Trafford, making just 32 appearances in two seasons and failing to recreate the magic he produced on the international stage.