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Russia shock: New boss Karpin axes captain Dzyuba from national squad a day after champs Zenit ditch skipper from starting lineup

Russia shock: New boss Karpin axes captain Dzyuba from national squad a day after champs Zenit ditch skipper from starting lineup
Russia's joint all-time top scorer, Artem Dzyuba, has been ousted from the first national squad announced by new boss Valeri Karpin – a day after Zenit dropped their captain amid rumors he could move to Turkish side Fenerbahce.

Targetman Dzyuba had a testing tournament in his nation's underwhelming Euro 2020 campaign, only scoring in the 4-1 mauling against Denmark that sealed Russia's departure from the group stage of the finals.

The 55-cap international would still have been expected to retain his place in the squad he skippered this summer, but new boss Karpin, who replaced Stanislav Cherchesov last month, says he has had other ideas because of Dzyuba's form, dropping Spartak Moscow striker Aleksandr Sobolev because of similar concerns.

"Sobolev and Dzyuba are now not on their best form for various reasons," the coach who quit Russian Premier League side Rostov earlier this month told Championat.

"Artem did not even make the starting lineup of Zenit, Sobolev did not play. In my opinion, to play in the national team, you need to play for your club. The choice of the attackers goes from there."

The news continues a miserable two days for Dzyuba after he was surprisingly left out of the starting lineup for Zenit's frustrating 1-1 draw at Lokomotiv Moscow in the Russian Premier League.

Zenit introduced their captain two minutes from the end after they had gone 1-0 up through an 85th-minute goal from Aleksei Sutormin.

That meant Dzyuba was on the pitch to witness the 90th-minute Fyodor Smolov penalty that landed Lokomotiv a point and cost Zenit their first points of the season.

Out-of-form Dzyuba is yet to open his account in the top flight this season and has gone four league games without being involved in a goal – his longest drought for more than two-and-a-half years.

Zenit boss Sergei Semak preferred to focus on his selections when his decision to exclude Dzyuba was immediately raised in the post-match media call.

"Today we played with two forwards, Sardar Azmoun and Sasha Erokhin, who have been in great form recently," replied Semak, who would not elaborate on his views on the referee and VAR decision that led to the penalty.

"So they were selected today. We made the late substitutions as we had to defend for a lot of the half. [Andrei] Mostovoy and Dzyuba came on late as they are more attacking players."

Fenerbache are hoping to sign Dzyuba "soon", according to Turkish source Sabah, which says that hundreds of fans of the Super Liga club are clamoring for the shock switch, with some even reportedly changing their social media names to his.

Also on rt.com Russia axe under-fire Stanislav Cherchesov as national football team boss after poor showing at Euro 2020

The 19-time league winners needed a second-half goal from former Real Madrid, Arsenal and Germany playmaker Mesut Ozil to beat Demirspor 1-0 in the opening match of their season on Sunday.

Smolov, CSKA Moscow's Anton Zabolotny and Dynamo Moscow's Konstantin Tyukavin are the recognized strikers in Karpin's Russia first squad for three fixtures in seven days at home to Croatia and Malta and away to Cyprus.

Dzyuba needs one international goal to beat Russian goalscoring legend Aleksandr Kerzhakov's record-setting tally for the national side of 30, although the former Zenit forward required 91 appearances in which to reach the total.

Karpin is yet to announce who will replace Dzyuba as captain for the 2022 World Cup Qualifiers.

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