The destruction of the French national team in Kiev by a combined Ukrainian effort raised quite a few eyebrows around the world and, while watching the game with some loyal Ukrainian friends, it made me analyze the game from a third party standpoint.
France boasted the likes of Paul Pogba, Franck Ribery, Karim Benzema, Olivier Giroud and (penalty-conceding, red card machine) Laurent Koscielny, all world class stars. Ukraine possessed a blend of experience, young talent, and a workmanlike attitude that combined together to down a strong French side.
Ukraine’s hard-working team is centred around two stars, Andriy Yarmolenko and Yevhen Konoplyanka - not the usual household names.
Dynamo Kiev winger Yarmolenko is definitely more prominent of the two players. The tall, long legged winger has some great footwork that reminds me of Berbatov and resembles a bit of the great Zizou. There was a lot of talk in the summer transfer window of Brendan Rodgers wanting to bring him to Anfield.
At 6’2" he isn’t necessarily the cliched winger, however his playing style is; he utilises his bag of tricks to cut in and create chances. He has garnered interest from various European clubs, however, my eye is on the other star, who I believe would be very successful in England.
Then enters Yevhen Konoplyanka; I first watched Konoplyanka in England’s 1-1 draw with Ukraine and ever since he has consistently performed well against top teams in Europe. This 5’9" midfielder is a prototypical winger. He has great agility, footwork and shot. He reminds me of Andrei Arshavin in his prime (but he is unlikely to cost £30million, and he is just 24 years old).
Playing for Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk in the Ukraine Premier League, his game is simply clinical. He runs at defenders, cuts in off his left wing and shoots. He doesn’t do this once or twice a game, he torments his fullback for all of 90 minutes.
There is rumoured to be interest from various top clubs, and its easy to understand why. I believe Konoplyanka’s skills will be easily transferable to the Premier League as his pace and skills are world class.
He has already proven he can perform against top national teams and would look absolutely fantastic on Liverpool’s left side, adding in a bit of will, dagger, and confidence to an attack that tends to lack it (see Jordan Henderson’s self-belief).
While both 24-year-olds interest me, Yarmolenko’s lack of acceleration and agility leaves me question marks as to how well his skills will translate to the English Premier League. His footwork is definitely world-class, but he hasn’t proven that he can carry a consistent threat throughout a match for me.
I’m not sure what position he’d fit in well at, perhaps he would be better suited in a central-attacking midfield role? He doesn’t leave as deep a footprint on a match as Konoplyanka does.
The 15m rated Konoplyanka will definitely be in demand in January, and I’d absolutely be thrilled if he was brought to Anfield as I believe he will be a hit among the Kop.
Arslan S is a writer at Lastwordonsport.com and is an academy writer at GiveMeSport. You may follow me on twitter at @a_sidd8 for some insights into the world of football.
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