Andriy Yarmolenko is one of the great mysteries of European football. The Ukrainian is amongst the most extravagantly gifted players of this generation and, whenever he surfaces on British television, viewers are always left puzzled as to how it is that he’s remained in a second-tier league for so long.
A lovely range of skills; a left-foot that is part siege-gun, part-wand; a really creative mind.
He’s an excellent player who belongs in the brightest spotlight and yet, already nearly 26, he has thus far resisted the temptation to pursue the money and the fame that his ability should give him access to.
It seems, however, that - with his contract a year away from expiring and his determination not to leave Kiev on a free - he is finally ready to leave and, as you’d expect, there’s plenty of interest.
Stoke City and Liverpool have all been linked with the player, but the only confirmed bid so far has come from Tottenham - something confirmed by Yarmolenko himself in a recent interview (thanks to @FutbolUkraine for that).
There is still a month left of the transfer-window and, given that his career has been leading up to this moment for a while, you wouldn’t expect Yarmolenko to rush this process. Spurs’ interest will excite their fans - of course - but it’s worth them remembering that there’s usually a motivation for a player to publicise interest.
He belongs in the Champions League and, given that Tottenham are neither involved in the competition at the moment or likely to return any time soon, it seems fanciful to believe that their path to actually signing him will be straightforward.
Still, because this is slightly more than just a generic, baseless rumour, it’s worth a few lines…
Tottenham’s forward-line currently looks like this:
Roberto Soldado will, today or tomorrow, complete a move back to Spain. Emmanuel Adebayor is apparently headed for a Tim Sherwood reunion at Villa and, given that he was left out of the recent tour to America, it seems smart to assume that Andros Townsend is also about to leave the club.
Consequently, Spurs looks perilously thin at the top of the pitch. No genuine alternative currently exists for Harry Kane and both Dele Alli and Alex Pritchard, promising as they are, are completely unproven beyond League One and the Championship respectively.
The interest in Yarmolenko evidently has its root in his ability and that alone would be reason enough to pay the expected asking price for him. However, in this instance he’s also valuable because of his dexterity - he is a multi-position player who, although probably best suited to the left, can play on both flanks and - theoretically - through the middle.
Personally, I’ve never seen him play anywhere other than from the left, but his ability should transfer across the attacking-third.
The benefit to Spurs is fairly obvious: having a resource of Yarmolenko’s quality would clearly be of value, but having another flexible piece would not only provide Mauricio Pochettino with a little more diversity in his team-selections, but it would afford him the opportunity to rotate his attacking components in and out of the side. The addition of the Ukrainian would perhaps allow for Erik Lamela to be shifted inside, for Christian Eriksen to be rested or move to the left of midfield and so on and so forth.
Attacking flexibility is something of a voguing concept in English football and, as last season showed, Tottenham do not enough of it - both in the sense that too much physical demand is placed on those offensive players and, also, that Pochettino is really restricted to attacking opponents in only one way.
This remains a very low-percentage situation, so it’s not worthy of any proper, thousand-word analysis pieces yet, but it’s something to be revisited if and when it increases in likelihood.
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