Scout Report - How will Andriy Yarmolenko settle in at Borussia Dortmund?
At the third time of asking, Borussia Dortmund finally got their man on Monday as Andriy Yarmolenko joined the club from Dynamo Kiev. BVB’s interest in the experienced Ukrainian first came about in summer 2015 while they attempted again last summer. And now for €25 million, the Bundesliga club are getting a player that perhaps doesn’t fit their transfer policy.
Nonetheless, the 27-year-old finally got his move to an elite European league. Dynamo Kiev had financial problems of their own to do the deal and with Yarmolenko their only player that can arguably fetch them a substantial amount, he was shipped.
Given that Ousmane Dembele swapped Borussia Dortmund for Barcelona in a €105m deal with €40m in future incentives, it’s a wonder why Dynamo Kiev didn’t ask in upwards of €30m for Yarmolenko, knowing full well that Dortmund had the funds.
With the Frenchman no longer at the club, it’s paved the way for Christian Pulisic to make a name for himself, while the arrival of a 27-year-old Yarmolenko will only help the United States international progress his career.
One player already in the Bundesliga that Yarmolenko will be likened to is his international teammate, Yehven Konoplyanka. Playing for Borussia Dortmund’s rivals, Schalke, Konoplyanka is finally looking the real deal given he didn’t live up to the hype last campaign. Similar in terms of style of play, Konoplyanka and Yarmolenko play on opposite flanks, both for Kiev and Ukraine – but it’s clear that the latter has bigger boots to fill given the success and meteoric rise of Dembele.
What does Yarmolenko have to offer?
Predominantly a right-winger, Yarmolenko has often been compared with Bayern Munich’s Arjen Robben and it’s clear to see just why. His ability to cut inside onto his favoured left foot effortlessly is a joy to watch, while his finishing abilities has Yarmolenko earn praise from former Ukraine international and AC Milan legend, Andriy Shevchenko.
The Ukrainian is a perfect fit for Peter Bosz’ 4-3-3 tactic that saw him guide Ajax Amsterdam all the way to the Europa League final, where they were ultimately defeated by Manchester United. In his first two Bundesliga games, the Dutch coach has amassed six points and scored five goals without reply.
An area that Yarmolenko may need to improve on under Bosz, however, is his tracking back. From what we’ve seen in the competitive fixtures Dortmund have played under their new head coach, he likes his wide players to track back – something that the €25m signing will need to learn to do.
Mustn't be compared with Ousmane Dembele
Expectations from Borussia Dortmund fans are high surrounding Yarmolenko. He’s a player that the German club has chased for some time, while he’s been linked with a move to European giants such as Liverpool, Paris Saint-Germain and others in the past – and so the ability is there.
Although he’s going to be compared with Dembele, it’s important for BVB fans not to expect the same thing from the Ukrainian. The Frenchman was comfortable with both feet, while he had a great understanding with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang however, Yarmolenko differs in that regard.
As aforementioned, he likes to cut inside onto his strong left-foot, before bending one into the far corner, Robben-esque, or picking out that killer pass. Had Yarmolenko moved when Dortmund were initially interested in 2015, then the Bundesliga side could well have seen him improve in front of their own eyes and mould into the player Dortmund are looking for but at 27, he’s going to have a lot to learn in such a short period of time.
Given the lack of competition in Ukrainian football, his progression seems to have stagnated, according to Ukrainian journalist Volodymyr Harets who told ESPN: "Andriy was not making his best effort during the last two seasons. He didn't have to in the Ukrainian league, and that is why he stagnated. There is a feeling that he is capable of playing better.”
That said, get his head down and Yarmolenko could well become the bargain of the summer, given that €25m is a nominal fee in today’s market, especially for an internationally recognised attacking player. Expect the 27-year-old to eclipse what Henrikh Mkhitaryan achieved at the club, while chipping in more goals.
Borussia Dortmund’s signing of the winger is certainly one of intent.