Starring in Ukraine’s Euro 2016 play-off victory over Slovenia, Andriy Yarmolenko further highlighted his importance for the national team, and showed the world yet again what a superb talent he is.
At only 26-years-old, he still has time to improve and despite signing a new five-year deal in October
a move to the Premier League could be on the cards, with Everton, Stoke and Chelsea all reportedly interested.
Shoot takes a look into his rise from struggling physically as a youngster, to his love affair with Dynamo Kiev, and if he will ever move away from the club that has been with him from the start.
Where did it all start for Yarmolenko?
The Ukrainian forward was actually born in Saint Petersburg, after his parents moved originally to Leningrad for work. However, they moved back to Chernihiv after Andriy was born. He was spotted at the age of 13 by Dynamo Kiev’s scouts, but moved back to Chernihiv because he couldn’t meet the physical demands of the club’s training methods. But the Ukrainian worked to improve and eventually signed a five-year deal with them in 2006.
What happened next?
After signing his contract, Yarmolenko was placed in Dynamo’s second team where he learned the fundamental skills that have shaped his ability today. He played here for one season, featuring 37 times and scoring nine goals from wide areas. His talent didn’t go unnoticed by those around him, as journalists were calling him the “new Sheva”, after legendary Ukrainian forward Andriy Shevchenko. His flair play also caught the eye of then vice-president Yozhef Sabo, who said that the playmaker “has all the makings to become a world class player”.
What impact has he made for the first-team?
Since making his debut in 2008, in which he scored the winning goal in a 2-1 victory over Vorskla Poltava, Yarmolenko has gone on to represent Kiev 185 times, scoring 74 goals in the process. He has become a vital player for the defending champions since his emergence, and his goals from wide areas have helped Kiev consistently qualify for the Champions League. His importance in the team was rewarded with the second vice-captaincy role, behind Oleh Husyev and captain Oleksandr Shovkovskiy, an honour that has further increased his love affair with the club. Yarmolenko has also been involved heavily with the national team, scoring 21 goals in 54 games. He netted his first international hat-trick in a 3-0 victory over Luxembourg in Ukraine’s Euro 2016 qualifying campaign.
What about him is so special?
The Ukrainian’s ability to test full backs is one that many struggle to replicate, and his height and power means he can outmuscle defenders as well. With a record that suggests he’s scoring a goal more than every three games, this means that Kiev and Ukraine don’t need to rely on their strikers to score all the goals. Once in front of goal, Yarmolenko possesses a coolness that was criticised in his younger days, perfectly displayed in his goal against Slovenia at the weekend.
What’s next for the winger?
It was reported last summer that Everton, Stoke City and Chelsea were all interested in bringing Yarmolenko to England. His ability would suggest that he would be a success in the Premier League, as he has a physical presence on the wing. His love for Kiev has kept him at the club until now, but a successful campaign followed by an explosive European Championship will most definitely see major clubs around Europe bid for him. If he were to stay he would improve as a player, but the ultimate test would be moving to a major league.