The hosts of the ongoing World Cup in Russia have surprised everybody with their performances.

The lowest ranked team in the tournament were expected to fail miserably on home soil, even in a group that, on paper, looked okay from their perspective – as was the form in the build-up to the competition.

The Russians have scored eight goals in their first two games – wins against Saudi Arabia and Egypt – equalling the best ever start by a host nation, France in 1998.

In their first two matches, what has been most prevalent is their energy and the amount of ground they cover – none more so than Aleksandr Golovin, who is a name that may be a heard a lot more in North London in the future if rumours about a mooted move to Arsenal come to fruition.

Golovin has certainly done his fair share in terms of contribution in the first 2 games, chipping in with one goal and two assists.

The 22-year-old has been one of the WC host nations stand-out performers, and he will have already been on new manager Unai Emery’s radar following his impressive displays for CSKA Moscow, particularly in Europe, where he netted a wonderful free-kick goal against the gunners in the first leg of the quarter final ties between the two sides.

Even before the tournament began, Golovin – who only turned 22 in May – was thought of as one of Russia’s potential shining lights, due to his club performances and appearances at Euro 2016 and the Confederations Cup last year with Russia.

Rumours of his move to Arsenal reignited since the start of the tournament, but he has been linked to the club for the best part of a year now. He was asked about the possibility of a move to Arsenal during the season, and the winger admitted he just “tried not to think about it”.

Russian outlet Sport-Express reported today that Golovin’s father has stated his son is learning how to speak English, which could very well mean a move to the UK is on the cards.

He won’t be an easy acquisition, however. His World Cup performances have already upped his stock, especially in addition to his European performances. It is being reported that alongside Arsenal, Chelsea and Juventus are also interested in the winger.

CSKA are reported to be willing to let go of Golovin for £21 million, which in the current market – and with his rising stock – may represent a decent acquisition.

Golovin and Russia have already booked their place in the knockout rounds of the World Cup in their home nation, with the final game against Uruguay set to decide who finishes on top of the group.

The final match in group A takes on added significance for Arsenal supporters as it sees two of Arsenal’s potential signings coming up against each other – Lucas Torreira with Uruguay and Golovin with Russia.
If it’s a draw, in all likelihood Russia will attain first place in group A due to their goal difference.

Regardless of whether it’s a 1st or 2nd place finish for Golovin’s side, they will face likely their toughest test yet in the first knockout stage, with it looking set to be against Portugal if they finish second in the group or Spain if they finish first in the group.

With some very tough tests coming up, it may be difficult for the Russian team to keep progressing in the tournament, but at least the team and the players will be able to hold their heads up high after what was an unexpectedly good campaign.

With Wilshire gone and the signing of Torreira apparently imminent, if the Gunners brought in Golovin there midfield options for next season would be:

Mesut Ozil, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Aaron Ramsey, Golovin, Torreira, Granit Xhaka, Mohamed Elneny and Ainsley Maitland-Niles.

As is evident from this list, there’s actually a lot of depth and quality here. There are several players capable of slotting into the attacking midfielder position, but with Golovin in the side, he could be deployed in a deeper pairing within a 4-2-3-1 or utilized in a similar way to Russia have done, as a winger who finds himself all over the field.

At 22 years-old, Golovin shares a trait with fellow potential incomer Torreira in that he would represent a long-term signing.

In Emery’s team rebuilding, both players would have the opportunity of making themselves integral to the team’s midfield - in different ways.

Torreira is more defensively minded, and could provide some much-needed stability in front of the defence, whereas Golovin’s role would see him marauding forward and attempting to provide assistance for the forward players as well as perhaps get in on the action for himself.

Still, as mentioned, Golovin has a long way to go to becoming an Arsenal player considering the hype surrounding him at the moment. What perhaps holds Emery’s side in good stead is the vested interest in the player prior to the World Cup.

With at least two more high-profile games to play (and you wouldn’t bet against more on the basis of the first two matches) Golovin still has a lot of work to do in Russia, but once it comes to a close for him and his country, you can expect him to be a highly sought-after commodity.