Russia striker Alexander Kerzhakov joined his national team captain Igor Denisov in the Zenit St. Petersburg reserves Sunday in a sign that rifts at the club have deepened.
Both players are Zenit regulars who first played for the club in 2001 and were central to the club winning the last two Russian titles.
Coach Luciano Spalletti said that several players were destabilizing the club in comments after Zenit’s 2-2 draw with Krylya Sovetov on Saturday, for which Denisov was left out of the squad. He did not name any individuals.
Some reports in the Russian media have linked the split to the high wages paid to Brazil striker Hulk, signed from Porto for €40 million earlier this month.
A source at Zenit told R-Sport on Saturday that Denisov and Spalletti had had a frank exchange of views Friday, a day before Denisov was left out of the squad.
“It’s still hard to say when he’ll join up with the first team,” the source said of Denisov.
At Sunday’s training session, Denisov worked with the reserve team and Kerzhakov ran laps of the pitch on his own.
Between them, Kerzhakov, 29, and Denisov, 28, have made almost 500 appearances for Zenit.
Kerzhakov has 66 Russia caps, while Denisov has 32 and was made captain by new national team coach Fabio Capello last month.