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REAL MADRID | CHERYSHEV

Cheryshev's window of opportunity drawing to a close

Real Madrid's Russia international winger was warned by Leonid Slutski that he should move to ensure his place in the Euro 2016 squad.

Cheryshev's window of opportunity drawing to a close

Russia manager Leonid Slutski delivered an ominous message to Denis Cheryshev in November: “The thief should be in prison and the football player should be on the pitch.”

It was Slutski’s way of saying that if Cheryshev did not seek pastures new to gain more playing time in the January window he would be putting his place in the Russia squad for the 2016 European Championship at risk. Slutski had earlier noted that Cheryshev was the only player at his disposal at one of Europe’s top clubs, and that in itself meant that he was a major asset to the team, but if the winger is never on the pitch the stature of his club becomes an irrelevance.

Under Rafa Benítez, Cheryshev was the least-used outfield player in the first team squad, picking up just 116 minutes on the turf out of 2,250 overseen by the Spaniard, or five percent of the total. The arrival of Zidedine Zidane has done little to alter Cheryshev’s standing. The Frenchman has left Cheryshev out of every squad he has picked so far and the winger is the only player other than youth keeper Rubén Yáñez not to have even featured on the bench.

Villarreal, where Cheryshev had a successful loan spell last season, and several Premier League clubs have made inquiries but Real Madrid did not sanction a new loan to El Madrigal and England has emerged as the only viable option for the Russian. The window closes on Monday and although Cheryshev has a contract at the Bernabéu until 2017, it seems that his ill-fated appearance against Cádiz last December might have been his last game for the club.