Zenit St. Petersburg striker Alexander Kerzhakov has proved during the recent rifts at the club that he puts his own wellbeing ahead of that of the team, manager Luciano Spalletti said Thursday.
Russia forward Kerzhakov joined his national team captain Igor Denisov in the Zenit reserves last week, missing the 2-2 draw with Krylya Sovetov.
Denisov had argued with Zenit management over the large salaries given to new signings Hulk and Axel Witsel, while the club said Kerzhakov was punished for unspecified “inappropriate behavior.”
“Regarding Kerzhakov, in turbulent times for the team he clearly showed that he wanted to think only of himself,” Spalletti said.
“In this club, we are all trying to work hard to grow and move forward. We do not want to take people who do not want to grow.”
“[Kerzhakov and Denisov’s] return depends only on them. When they show that they are ready to be members of the team, they will be accepted with open arms," Spalletti said.
Zenit are fifth in the table with one point from two last games. They face Lokomotiv Moscow at home on Saturday before hosting AC Milan in the Champions League on Wednesday.
Denisov and Kerzhakov have been called into a preliminary 36-man Russia squad for World Cup qualifiers against Portugal and Azerbaijan next month.