International Football

Why Yevhen Konoplyanka Is a Threat to England and a Fit for the Premier League

DNIPROPETROVSK, UKRAINE - SEPTEMBER 20:  Yevhen Konoplyanka of FC Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk in action during the UEFA Europa League group stage match between FC Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk and PSV Eindhoven on September 20, 2012 at the Dnipro Arena in Dnipropetrovsk, Ukraine. (Photo by Genya Savilov/EuroFootball/Getty Images)
EuroFootball/Getty Images
Sam TigheWorld Football Tactics Lead WriterSeptember 10, 2013

England take on Ukraine in Kiev on Tuesday night in a pivotal World Cup qualifier, and Yevhen Konoplyanka is the man to watch out for in yellow and blue.

The dynamic winger has also recently been linked with a move to the Premier League, and Mirror Football's Ed Malyon believes he could well be the subject of another—this time successful—bid in the next 12 months.

"There was a bid of around £10million from a Premier League club this summer, who we expect to go back in for him in January," his agent told the national paper.

"Dnipro rate the player very highly and have no need to sell, but would expect €20million (£16.8m) for him."

The fact that "top" Premier League clubs are ready to spend such a figure on him is indicative of his talent level, which at 23 years of age ranks among the highest in his position.

England have faced him before, at Euro 2012, and Roy Hodgson's men scraped passed Oleg Blokhin's Ukrainian outfit, courtesy of a contentious 1-0 victory.

Konoplyanka and Andriy Yarmolenko tormented the Three Lions' full-backs Ashley Cole and Glen Johnson, playing as inverted wingers and dropping inside to find space.

Yarmolenko was the more threatening on the night due to the outrageous freedom awarded to Oleg Gusev, pushing 10-to-15 yards further forward than any regular defender and forcing Yarmolenko in off the edge.

But Konoplyanka is just as much of a threat, and in the year that's passed has done a lot of growing as a player. His ability to find himself pockets of space is excellent, possesses incredible top-end speed and boasts a rasping shot to boot.

He's likely set to give England a torrid time in Kiev, and Kyle Walker will be in for one hell of an examination on that right-hand side.

It's also very likely he'd be cut out for huge successes in the Premier League, given his natural skill set, athleticism and mindful presence on the field.

If you're a top-six club on the lookout for a winger, you'd best be watching Konoplyanka in Kiev on Tuesday night. You can bet Hodgson's done extensive homework on his part.

 


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