In a new-look, youthful Uzbekistan team, Sergeev is arguably the jewel in the crown. Scott McIntyre gives you the lowdown on a lanky striker with the world at his feet...
THE 60-SECOND STORY
- Date of birth: April 30, 1993
- Place of birth: Tashkent, Uzbekistan
- Height: 1.85m
- Position: Striker
- Current club: Pakhtakor
A tall central striker with a brilliant nose for goal, Sergeev is an instinctive finisher who is already regarded as one of the hottest young prospects in Asia.
At just 22, he’s vastly experienced at both national and club level and has shone on every stage that he’s graced, be that the 2013 FIFA Under-20 World Cup, the 2015 Asian Cup or countless league and Champions League outings for the club where he’s spent his entire career, Pakhtakor.
In a region that’s not known for producing prolific forwards, Sergeev at his tender age is already one of the most highly touted, and it’s only a matter of time before he’s plying his trade at a higher level.
WHY YOU NEED TO KNOW HIM
There’s a reason why pure finishers are so sought-after and it’s been quite a while since Central Asia, indeed Asia generally, has produced a player with the qualities Sergeev possesses.
Sergeev is, plain and simple, a deadly and prolific scorer
After making his Pakhtakor debut in early 2011 he quickly established himself as a key cog in that well-oiled machine, helping the club win league titles in 2012, 2014 and 2015.
His knack for scoring regularly was also forged early on, finishing the 2014 campaign as the fifth highest scorer in the land and then blasting his way to the top of the charts last season with 23 – the highest tally in the league since 2005.
That run of form continued in the 2016 ACL, where he was on target in each of the first three group stage matches and at international level as he scored four times in helping guide Uzbekistan to the top of their qualification group.
All told they won seven of their eight matches and appear in a strong position to reach the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
Sergeev is, plain and simple, a deadly and prolific scorer.
Standing 1.85 metres tall, he’s a powerful presence in the air but just as capable on the ground.
Perhaps better known as a penalty box predator, he’s still more than capable of scoring from a range of positions and situations, but is clearly more at home waiting for good service from those behind him and allowing his natural instincts to do the rest.
Even from a young age that predatory nature has been on display, not just in Uzbekistan but also to a wider, continental audience.
To say he was a key part of the Uzbek side which made the semis of the 2012 AFC Under-19 Championships is some understatement.
He scored in five straight matches to bag the Golden Boot award and help his nation qualify for the Under-20 World Cup the following year in Turkey.
There he was at it again, scoring twice as Uzbekistan surprised many to reach the quarter-finals, where they were outplayed by a France side containing the likes of Paul Pogba and Kurt Zouma.
Not regarded as the most mobile of strikers, and at times reluctant to track back and help with pressing and defensive duties, Sergeev may need to round out these aspects of his game to take the next step towards a long career abroad.
“I think he has a great future in club football and the national team, but he should not stop at this level, he should always have more – I think he can do it and he can be one of the best in Uzbekistan” - Former national coach Mirdjalal Kasimov after Sergeev scored the winner against DPR Korea in the group stage at last year’s Asian Cup.
DID YOU KNOW?
The 22-year-old Tashkent-born star is of Russian descent, in a country where less than 10 per cent of people share that ethnic background.
WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?
He’s more than capable of doing a good job at a mid-tier European nation
The sky is the limit for the young forward, with Pakhtakor already having knocked back several offers from abroad from clubs looking to prise away their star asset.
It seems a matter of time though before the player himself makes his intention to test himself at a higher level clear.
It’s possible he could follow several of his compatriots to the big Asian leagues in China or the Middle East, while he’s also more than capable of doing a good job at a mid-tier European nation.