Denis Cheryshev: The loan deal which may propel Valencia to surprise success
When World Cup proceedings started on June 14 in Russia, not many would have given the lowest-ranked Russian side a genuine chance to cross the hurdle in their group stage fixtures.
However, as the tournament progressed, we saw the rise of a star for their nation. He went on to score an impressive four goals during the competition - while one of his strikes against Saudi Arabia was even nominated as a Goal of the Tournament option.
Real Madrid academy product, Denis Cheryshev. He has the dual nationality of both Russia and Spain, was born in the former but moved alongside his father at the age of six in 1996. Father Dmitry was also a footballer and signed for Sporting Gijon at the time.
Cheryshev first came to light for the wrong reasons, being the player who Real Madrid wrongly fielded in the 2015 Copa del Rey. They were consequently banned from that year's tournament, having accrued three yellow cards when out on-loan at Villarreal.
He was ineligible to play in this competition, specifically because he'd already been suspended (too many bookings) - although the club realised their mistake long after their blushes could have been spared.
Rafael Benitez, then Real boss, started him and the forward opened the scoring in the first-half during their 3-1 win over Cadiz. He was substituted early in the second 45 but fielding an ineligible player - not least one who scored - was always going to be a tough fight for the club to appeal.
During his professional career to date, Cheryshev was marred by a series of injuries at Real Madrid. He was loaned to Villarreal during the 2014/15 campaign, returned to Madrid before once more going out on a temporary basis to Valencia for a short stint in 2016.
Having found it difficult to break into Real's first-team, he completed a £7m permanent move to Villarreal that summer. Yesterday, he sealed a return season-long loan switch back to Los Che.
His playing style, strengths
Cheryshev mainly plays as a left winger, though is capable of switching roles to the right or equally, playing in a second striker role. His combination play with midfield teammates is beautiful to watch and given his academy years were spent at Real, he still has plenty of potential to fulfil away from the Bernabeú going forward.
He has the speed, technique and the overall ability to be one of La Liga's most devastating wingers in the final third. However, his statistics do not yet display his true potential as the goalscoring winger he can become.
Valencia are one of Spain's most followed teams, after Barcelona and both Madrid sides. They finished fourth in the league last term, mainly due to the influence of loanee forward Goncalo Guedes - who has since returned to Paris Saint-Germain. An ideal replacement for the Portugal international is someone like Cheryshev, who can create and equally score goals for himself.
How can Valencia benefit from his arrival?
Valencia's squad ahead of the new league campaign is certainly one capable of achieving good things. They have always been a threatening contender for the Champions League, yet have failed to make their opportunities count. They have consistently failed to stamp their authority this decade - though fortunes could turn over the next twelve months.
Cheryshev's arrival, albeit on a season-long loan, could become the catalyst for unlikely success at Valencia. Should he settle quickly and gel perfectly alongside Daniel Parejo and co, Valencia will play some fantastic football this term. Provided he's able to continue his World Cup form on a consistent basis, they will prove a nightmare for teams including Atletico, Sevilla and Villarreal.
Considering how Real struggled in the league last term, who knows just how far they can go?
Cheryshev is just 27-years-old. Given his troublesome injury history, the academy years and all before him, he'll be determined to start afresh this campaign and remain fit while doing so.
Could he become the sailor Valencia are looking for, to sail them through to success in Spain and the Champions League? Time will tell.
Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and they do not necessarily represent the views of Sportskeeda.