It's finally official: Armenian forward Yura Movsisyan is joining Real Salt Lake's squad on loan with a purchase option, making his return he made to the team he left at the end of 2009 to start a six-year European journey. Spartak Moscow broke the news today.
Movsisyan's departure came after a strong season for RSL, in which he played a pivotal role for the team in their MLS Cup-winning campaign. He left for Denmark at the end of that campaign with his contract expiring; as a result, RSL maintained his MLS rights.
Movsisyan nearly returned to the club last summer, but the arrival of a new coach left him with a desire to make it work at Spartak Moscow. That doesn't seem to have played out quite how he'd have liked. However, for Salt Lake, the arrival of Burrito Martinez could be a real positive, and the combination of Martinez and Movsisyan sounds an exciting one.
His departure to Europe saw Movsisyan join Randers FC in Denmark, then Kransodar and Spartak Moscow in Russia. Spartak is undoubtedly the most prominent of the teams he joined, but it's also the one he struggled at the most — but it was also the one he found the most success with.
At Spartak, Movsisyan scored 27 goals in 66 games, which translates to a respectable 0.4 goals per game. Now, those aren't Robbie Keane or Sebastian Giovinco numbers — they were both among those in the 0.6 goals per game last year.
But Movsisyan's numbers demand a bit of explanation. His goal count from mid-2014 to now have been paltry in comparison to everything that came before. In the 2014-15 season, he played only 837 minutes. The big reason? Most reports point toward a falling out with his then-coach, Murat Yakin.
While the reasons for that falling out were never made public (at least certainly not in English), there was always plenty of speculation, and it often circled over the fact that Yakin, who is a Turk, and Movsisyan, an Armenian, experienced some sort of strife over the Armenian genocide. (Indeed, despite taking place over 100 years ago and an estimated 1.5 million Armenians being killed, many in Turkey still deny there was a genocide at all. This isn't to say that it was the cause of conflict between Movsisyan and his coach, but it helps create an understanding of the sociopolitical climate that could have affected the two.)
Movsisyan's strongest numbers came the season before Yakin's arrival. In the 2013-14 season, Movsisyan scored a truly remarkable 16 goals in 27 games — that's right around that 0.6 goals-per-game mark.