There is no doubt that Fedor Smolov is his country’s biggest hope in attack, although it took a while for the striker from Saratov to live up to this billing.
The young prospect made his debut in the top flight aged 17 for Dynamo Moscow, scoring his first goal a year later, but from then on progress stalled. A number of under-par performances and unsuccessful loan stints at Feyenoord in the Netherlands and then Anzhi Makhachkala almost made his supporters give up hope.
Smolov finally began to hint at his true potential with Ural Ekaterinburg before hitting new heights at Krasnodar, becoming the main goal threat at the young and ambitious club.
His debut for the national team was memorable, scoring in the ninth minute of the friendly against USA in 2012. He has since gone on to score against France and Spain in friendlies, proving he does not fear competing against the best. Russia will be heavily reliant on his goalscoring prowess at the 2018 FIFA World Cup™.