Astute signing or alternate history? Lunin joins Real Madrid family
Okay, so it's Andriy Lunin, not Vladimir Lenin, and Real Madrid is not that kind of royal family, although there are millions of Catalan sympathisers who think pseudo-murderous thoughts about the Castillian club. Nevertheless, Los Blancos have proven they are open to signing talent from anywhere in the world.
They've always done so, even while they're linked with several world-class in every transfer window. Florentino Perez is happy to invest time as well as money in acquiring talent.
Lunin is nothing new in that context. A talented Ukranian goalkeeper who came through Dnipro’s academy system, he played for Zorya Luhansk last season. Not exactly one of Ukraine’s biggest club, it's far behind Dynamo Kyiv and Shakhtar Donetsk. That said, it's an excellent place to develop one's goalkeeping skills. Without a top defence in front of him, there is an abundance of competitive application.
Lunin signed a two-year contract with Zorya, following Dnipro’s relegation from the Ukrainian Premier League due to financial problems. He quickly became the team’s top option between the posts. His performances at both the domestic and European level caught the eye of several top sides. Real Madrid, as they often do, have reportedly won the race to acquire him.
In fact, the club has announced the deal.
Real Madrid and Zorya Luhansk have agreed a transfer for Andriy Lunin, who will be under contract with the team for the following six seasons.
There was no mention of a transfer fee, but it is believed to be around €8.5 million.
But who is Lunin? And what makes him such an intriguing prospect?
He made his debut for Dnipro in October 2016, when he was only 17, but his best moments came when defending Zorya, especially at the Europa League.
His display against Athletic Club in September last year interested both Liverpool and Inter. Then Zorya’s chairman, Serhiy Rafailov, announced there were offers “from bigger clubs”. Many laughed, albeit not now. Zorya has completed the biggest transfer of a Ukranian player since Dmitro Chigrinskiy swapped Shakhtar Donetsk for Barcelona back in 2009.
The scouting report does not lie. Lunin is filled with potential. Experts believe he is good enough to become one of the world's top goalkeepers sooner rather than later. He has great reactions, strong punch, and positioning are excellent for so young a player. Add his maturity to the mix. He's shown he can handle pressure in the Europa League and has more than 40 caps in the Ukrainian Premier League.
What are Madrid's immediate plans for the youngster? A loan to keep him playing makes the most sense. If Luca Zidane leaves, as expected, Lunin would at best be third in the queue for the Merengue goal behind Keylor Navas and Kiko Casillas.
The talent is certainly there. Lunin might be Real Madrid’s goalkeeper of the future. He might not. But the transfer was something Real needed to do. They might have snapped one of the most talented goalkeepers in the world for a bargain fee. Without a doubt, this was a brilliant business move.