Joel Amorim

Dynamo Kyiv have been home to some fantastic players throughout their long and successful history. Quality performers such as Oleh Blokhin, Anatoliy Demyanenko, Igor Belanov, Maksim Shatskikh and Andriy Shevchenko, to name but a few, have delighted Dynamo Kyiv fans over several decades. However, despite a history of boasting a number of talented players, the Ukrainian giants have been sleeping for some time and are experiencing perhaps the most complicated moment in their recent history at present, as Shakhtar Donetsk dominate domestically.

Although the future does not look too bright for Dynamo Kyiv, there is one player who is developing so quickly that he is fast becoming one of the side’s most important men: his name is Andriy Yarmolenko.

The forward plays for the Ukrainian national team, even though he was born in St. Petersburg in the final years of the Soviet Union; his parents had been employed in the city. However, a short time after he was born, they returned to the Ukraine, to the city where they were born in the Chernihiv oblast.

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Yarmolenko’s career at Dynamo Kyiv only began in 2006, in the club’s reserve squad. Before then, he had only played in minor leagues with local clubs such as Desna Chernihiv. At the age of 13, Yarmolenko had a short spell in Dynamo Kyiv’s academy, but was quickly sent away due to his poor physical condition. Former Dynamo star and current Volyn Lutsk coach Anatoliy Demyanenko has admitted that back then the club should probably not have let him leave, especially as a few years later scouts reported that there was a “new Shevchenko” playing for a team on the outskirts of Kyiv and stressed the need to bring him to the side’s academy immediately.

It was by the hand of charismatic Russian coach Valery Gazzaev that Yarmolenko started to flourish as a player. Gazzaev knew that the forward had something special and never gave up on him, even when his initial period at Dynamo Kyiv did not go as well as expected. Yarmolenko’s development under the Russian was significant, but he took another big step forward during Yuri Semin’s reign at the club. Another experienced Russian manager, Semin offered Yarmolenko all the confidence he needed in order for him to progress. Semin transformed Yarmolenko into a top class player, with influence at club and international level.

Ukraine’s new star is extremely versatile. Over the years Yarmolenko has played in several positions across the left side of the pitch and even had some unsuccessful spells as a left-back. At Dynamo Kyiv he has secured a spot on the left flank up front, though he can often operate anywhere along the front line. Yarmolenko can easily adapt to play on the right wing and often plays on the right hand side for the Ukraine; he can also be used as a second striker or as an inside forward. Extremely quick and with impressive technique, Yarmolenko is also competent when it comes to scoring goals. This term he is enjoying one of the best starts to a campaign of his still short professional career, with six goals in 12 league games to date. The 23-year-old is of paramount importance to club and country and has begun to earn fresh comparisons with his idol as a boy, Andriy Shevchenko.

In fact, they are very different players and the only similarity between the pair is related to the influence both have enjoyed at Dynamo Kyiv and with the Ukraine. Shevchenko has had his say on Yarmolenko though, praising the forward and explaining he feels he is on the right path to enjoy a comparable amount of success in the game, or perhaps even more.

Yarmolenko is part of an impressive generation of Ukrainian players that are starting to catch the eye of western Europe’s biggest clubs. Dynamo Kyiv knocked back an approach for Yarmolenko from Liverpool in the summer and the Reds are sure to not be the last side beating a path to the Ukrainian side’s door. The forward is probably not a new Shevchenko, but he is all set to turn out to be one of the most talented Ukrainian players of recent times.

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