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Inside FutbolInside Futbol

06 October 2018

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26 August 2018


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Best Bits of Ukrainian Premier League Business


Artem Chobanian

This year’s European transfer market rush ended with some stunning deals like Robinho’s unexpected move to Manchester City and Berbatov’s transfer to Manchester United. In the light of these, and other, events, the transfer policy of the not-so-popular leagues and clubs seem unimportant and pale in comparison. However, the representatives of the clubs and supporters would not agree with us here, so let’s see how the summer period ended for the clubs in Ukraine, where football is acquiring a new status and is developing to challenge the best European leagues.

The best Ukrainian teams have been very quiet during the summer period. The first and major signings were made in June, right after the end of the previous season, so here are the top six moves in Ukrainian football.

Shakhtar Donetsk — Rustam Hudzhamov, Goalkeeper

For many pundits this was a weird move by Shakhtar boss Mirca Luchescu. Shakhtar already had three goalkeepers and a new purchase seemed ridiculous. However, Luchescu played Hudzhamov in the first match of the season — the Supercup against Dynamo Kyiv,
and Rustam proved to be a good keeper, making lots of saves and finally catching Diacote’s shot in the penalty shootout, which brought his team victory.

The new man was praised a lot in the media, but then was noticed only in the first match of the official season and vanished as if he didn’t exist at all. Since then Andriy Pyatov, the main Shakhtar goalkeeper, has defended the net. With the problems Shakhtar experience now in the league, we can expect Hudzhamov to appear at least in the matches for the cup, if not in the Premier League or Champions League matches.

Shakhtar Donetsk — Evheniy Seleznev, Attacker

If there’s nothing obvious for the fans with Rustam Hudzhamov, then the purchase of Seleznev is a major deal for Shakhtar for the new season. Last year Arsenal showed excellent performances in the second part of the season and the major role in that success belonged to
Seleznev. Arsenal’s coach, Alexander Zavarov didn’t want to let Seleznev go, but the money offered tempted Arsenal’s bosses and they didn’t hesitate for a second in selling the forward. From the very first games at Shakhtar in the training period Seleznev scored most of the goals for his new club and put in excellent performances despite his excessive weight.

With the start of the season, Seleznev and his partner Alexander Gladkiy scored less than Shakhtar midfielders Fernandinho and Jadson, but Luchescu is absolutely delighted with Seleznev, and in one of his numerous interviews stated that this forward will show the best of himself in the Champions League. He added that the players with so much hunger and desire usually realize their potential in the most important matches.

Well, so far the unconvincing start of the Ukrainian champions, (Shakhtar is now 11th in the table), gives food for thought, but all officials of the club are sure the team will improve and get its former shape with time.

Dynamo Kyiv — Betao, Brazilian Central Defender

Any foreign player appearing in Ukraine brings lots of disputes and debates with them. Many specialists still think of adjusting/limiting the number of the foreigners at Ukrainian clubs, but in the case with Betao there are no worries among the fans and the coaching staff.

After four years with Corinthians, Betao tried his luck in Europe. His new club Sochaux couldn’t find a place for him and, as Betao put it, “France was a strange place for to play…” So, after just a year with Sochaux, the defender returned to Santos, and from here was purchased by Dynamo Kyiv.

This transfer would not be so important if it wasn’t one made by Semin himself. The Russian coach had seen great potential in Betao and the defender proved his abilities in his very first games. Two players at Dynamo, Betao and Badr El Kaddouri, resemble Cafu very much. Fast, elegant in movement, they browse on the wings of the pitch and frankly, there’s now no player in the Premier League able to compete with Betao.

In the recent matches against Spartak Moscow, Betao produced numerous raids along the flanks facing no opposition from Spartak full-backs. He is only 24 years old and is delighted with a 5-year contract with Dynamo, stating that here, at this club, he has not only freed his talent, but also sees a clear route for progress.

Dynamo Kyiv — Ognen Vukoevich, Croatian Midfielder

A very good signing for the greatest Ukrainian club. Shakhtar captain Dario Srna, a former Dynamo Zagreb player himself, offered Vukoevich the chance join his team, but beside Shakhtar there were other teams interested in the player: Celtic, Ajax and even Bayern Munich. Vukoevich preferred Dynamo Kyiv and is satisfied with is choice.

Srna was, some say, offended, but Dynamo supporters loved Vuko at once for his choice and the quality of play he has shown so far. He is fast, quick-witted in terms of decision making and, what sets him apart from many players in the Premier League, never hesitates to shoot from any distance.

If we add wonderful young talents like Artem Milevsky and Alexander Aliev, who do not waste passes and shoot from any distance in any situation, then we’ll get a nice triangle of players that are very dangerous in attack and are, unsurprisingly, now firm fan favourites.

As a major player in the Croatia national team, Vukoevich performance at EURO 2008 was adequate, though he played in only two matches. He is young and full of ambition, and his 5-year contract satisfies him completely. Semin values him highly and it’s a new regime at Dynamo Kyiv with Semin who gives opportunities to young and skilful players rather than just relying on experience.

Metalist Kharkiv — Jonathan Maidana, Argentine Central Defender

This buy has been a long time desire of Metalist Kharkiv coach Miron Markevich as he sought to purchase another good defender to accompany Papa Guye. The club managed to grab Maidana at the last moment, on August 31st.

Maidana’s first appearance came in 2006 for Boca against Sao Paolo. This young defender is full of energy on the pitch and had been quite good with Boca for two years. He was in the Argentina U-20 team and considered as a key defender for the national team at the Beijing Olympics.

“He is young, not yet mature, but we believe he can contribute to the club and help us strengthen the defence”, said Markevich to a local paper. The new player has not yet appeared, but he is expected to help Metalist in their next match against Besiktas.

Metalist Kharkiv — Jajá, Brazilian Attacking Midfielder

This unknown footballer has been much traveled during his short professional career, but thanks to the Metalist scouts he was discovered and brought to Kharkiv, just like Papa Guye before him a couple of years ago.

He was raised at América Futebol Clube (MG), but the next year, in 2004, moved to Europe to join Feyenoord, soon signing a loan deal with Westerlo. However, in 2006 he was purchased by Getafe CF, but having played only two games was loaned to Flamengo, played half of the season in Brazil, and moved to K.R.C. Genk and then in 2007 again back to Westerlo.

Just by looking at the player’s profile one cannot understand the reason Metalist signed Jaja. However, Kharkiv scouts are considered amongst the best in Ukraine and according to their reports Jaja will be a very good purchase for the club. The player’s transfer was agreed in February 2008, but Coelho joined the club only in the summer.

The very first game for Metalist proved that Jaja had found his place in the team. During the training session, Coelho was the best and to show him to the fans and press Metalist organized three open training sessions in Kharkiv. Many people came to see the new player and were quite satisfied with what they saw.

Later, with the start of the season, Jaja became the best scorer for Metalist with four goals. His manner of play is unique. When he runs, it seems his legs are moving apart from the body performing something resembling an Irish jig. He is fast and can go through several players it seems as if he penetrates them like a ghost. Only seven rounds have at the time of writing been played in Ukraine, but Jaja is already a key player for Metalist and his performances, activity on the pitch and understanding of his team mates give hope to the fans that their favourite club will progress further than last season in the UEFA Cup and make further progress in the Premier League.


Published: Friday, 12th Sep 2008