The player to showcase this set was the main inspiration for writing this top 10 list. But when theres one great player, theres others that people may need to know about, especially if people are buying blocks and ripping packs. Hopefully this list can give the reader an insight into other good players in the list, and give the reader a reason to collect the other stickers in the set!
10 – Ivan Ignatyev – #108 – Rookie Sticker from Panini Russian Premier League 2017/18
Ignatyev, 23, has been the man chosen to lead Lokomotiv’s line. Although they are having a terrible season, Ivan is getting vital minutes up top and has scored 4 goals so far this campaign. Ignatyev was has minor success is the RPL, scoring 21 goals in total. The reason he ranks on the list is because he has tremendous potential. Ivan was prolific at the reserve and youth level, if he can replicate this in the RPL, he will be a force to be reckoned with.
9 – João Mário – #81 – Rookie Sticker from Panini Futebol 2012/13
Joao Mario is the most accomplished players on this list. Having represented Portugal over 50 times, it is clear he is a class player. He spent 1 year in Russia following some poor form at Inter Milan. He has since returned to Portugal and is in very impressive form for Benfica, and they currently sit on top of the table. He is also representing Portugal in the 2022 World Cup. Not a super expensive sticker, but a cool collector piece.
8 – Eldor Shomurodov – #227 – Rookie Sticker from Panini Russian Premier League 2017/18
Shomurodov had a slow start to his career, much due to his geographical location. He played senior football in Uzbekistan for 3 years before earning a move to Russia. After spending 3 seasons for Rostov, interest from Italy began to rise and he subsequently secured a transfer to Genoa. After a successful campaign, scoring 8 goals, AS Roma came knocking and he joined forces with Mourinho. Eldor has had a slow start to his Roma career, but with a bit of form, that can change very quickly. Being a striker, a few goals gets a long way in the hobby, so having his sticker is a decent investment option.
7 – Alex Král Rookie Sticker – #141
Kral is usually deployed as a number 6, he’s a solid young player and is already a Czech International player. Mainly a defensive minded player, he got plenty of game time at Spartak, including UCL appearances. Following the conflict his contract with Spartak has been suspended and he has gotten loan moves to West Ham and Schalke. He hasn’t been amazing, but I think he is getting valuable experience and will be a very accomplished player in the centre of the the pitch for the coming years.
6 – Daniil Fomin Rookie Sticker – #322
Fomin is a deep lying playmaker and is a current Russian International. After an impressive season at Ufa (this sticker), Daniil earned a transfer to Dinamo Moscow and has quickly become one of their best players. Fomin is a very balanced player. He is tall, technical and composed. His performances generated interest from West Ham in early 2022. This interest was quickly quashed after the conflict with Ukraine began. It’s hard to say whether Fomin will eventually get a move away from Russia, but he is great player nonetheless, and a great sticker to have.
5 – Zuriko Davitashvili Rookie Sticker – #260
We are all aware of the Georgian sensation, Kvaratskheila, but a name thats going under the radar is Davitashvili. Zuriko, also Georgian, played alongside Kvicha at Rubin Kazan. He was an effective player but didn’t manage to put up huge numbers. Despite this, he has put in good performances and has earned a move to France, playing for Bordeaux. He hasn’t set the world of fire at Bordeaux, but is definitely one to watch considering he was on UEFA’s list of 50 top talents of 2020.
4 – Aleksandr Sobolev Rookie Sticker – #307
Sobolev has been a man on fire in the RPL this season. The big number 9 has scored 14 goals in all competitions so far and doesn’t look like slowing down. It needs to be taken into account that Sobolev is a true 9 and a pivot, to be able to score this amount of goals whilst also being a target man to help build the play is very impressive. Aged 25, throughout his career, he has nearly averaged a goal every 2 games, even at international level. Sobolev is approaching his peak and clubs may come knocking if a transfer is possible (the conflict may affect this). Currently playing for Spartak, he brings back memories of a young Artem Dzyuba!
3 – Sebastian Szymański Rookie Sticker – #284
Szymanski is highly versatile player and is currently representing Poland at the 2022 World Cup! Mainly played as an attacking left winger, Sebastian has a fantastic left foot with crossing being a strength. He also can be deployed in the centre of the park when needed, and even left back. He spent 3 years in Russia before moving to the Netherlands, signing for Feyenoord on loan. He has been in great form in the Eredivisie, scoring 6 goals in 13 matches. If he continues, I think he will be earning a move to the bigger teams in Europe. Finding wingers who are effective crossers is becoming a rare commodity, and coupled with his versatility, Szymanski is a very good prospect.
2 – Andrei Mostovoy Rookie Sticker – #364
Mostovoy carries a big Russian name on his shirt, and is currently one of the best players in the Russian Premier League. The Russian international is a tricky left winger who has an eye for goal. Currently playing for the giants of the last 10 years in Russia, Zenit St. Petersburg. Zenit currently sit pretty at the top of the league and Andrei has been a key player in this! Being 25, people may think it is a little too for Andrei to make a bigger career in Europe. In rebuttal to this, I would use Mostovoy’s namesake, Andrei Arshavin, as a case study. He, also a Zenit player, earned a move to Arsenal at 28, and was sensational!
1 – Khvicha Kvaratskhelia Rookie Sticker – #258
Khvicha Kvaratskhelia is the best rookie sticker in Panini Russian Premier League 2019-2020
This was probably the easiest choice for the number spot I have had to make! Khvicha is head and shoulders ahead of all the other players on this list. He has been a revelation this year since transferring to Napoli! Napoli and Kvaratskhelia have been on fire, and it looks set to continue. This is already a very expensive sticker ranging from 200-300 dollars! The print run for this set wasn’t huge and it is a Russian exclusive. During the 2018/19 season Panini didn’t produce a set. This set’s print run was much lower as Panini was testing the waters in the Russian market. After its great success the following sets have has higher print runs. The reason I allude to this is because it gives us a reason to believe that this sticker is truely scarce, which is good news for the future value of this sticker.
I hope this was an interesting read for you guys. I must admit, I learned quite a lot while researching this, the RPL is not my specialty. The honourable mentions for this set will be interesting. Theres a bunch of players you may recognise, but had no idea they were playing in Russia.
Honourable Mentions: Marcus Berg, Remi Cabella, Eder, Krychowiak, Wanderson, Malcom, Nikola Vlasic, Branislav Ivanovic, Azmoun, Miranchuk brothers, Christoffer Olsson, Manuel Fernandes, Samuel Gigot, Schürrle, Jordan Larsson, Clinton Njie, Maximillian Phillipp and Christian Noboa.
Thanks for reading!