Andriy Yarmolenko became Manuel Pellegrini’s fifth signing as West Ham United manager when the move was made official on Wednesday. The Ukraine international chose the Premier League outfit after seeing them as an “interesting project” following the high-profile signings of Issa Diop and Jack Wilshere. The arrival of Yarmolenko will add another dynamic to West Ham and is perhaps seen as a different forward threat to what West Ham fans are used to.
For Borussia Dortmund, the Ukrainian seemed to be their eternal target, a player they always wanted to get and when they finally got him last summer, it seemed like a perfect fit. Yarmolenko walked onto the green pitch in rural Germany and his impact was direct and obvious. Borussia opened the season with style and pace, winning their first five games and had Rekordmeisters Bayern Munich on the ropes right away. However, we all know what happened next. Peter Bosz failed to acknowledge some obvious problems in the squad and Borussia Dortmund went two whole months without a single win in the league. Yarmolenko’s season ended with these calamitous two months, as he rarely featured under new boss Peter Stöger, appointed following the demise of Bosz.
Early performances showcased his skills and qualities while it seemed obvious that Yarmolenko can make it at a top European club. But why didn’t it work out for him at Borussia Dortmund despite a positive start?
As is often the case, it was psychological. When Dortmund collapsed, Yarmolenko’s form dipped as a result. The mere fact that he had already shown what he could do is enough to convince me of the credibility of the psychological explanation. He’s not a bad player by any means, but a man that joined the right club at the wrong time eventually showed. No better explanation can be found, nor is it needed.
Yarmolenko is a talented player who would be starting for a clear majority of clubs in Europe. His trickiness with the ball at his feet together with his speed and control, makes him a potent winger and a decent striker. He’s versatile, can play on both flanks and tends to create space for him and his peers with clever runs. His scoring record in Ukraine was impressive and his first few months at BVB were alike, but he’s also a capable creator of chances of different qualities and varieties.
Unfortunately, he joined the perfect club at the wrong time in Dortmund and fans will knowingly feel disappointed given he’s been allowed to leave. Years of scouting down the drain due to a few terrible months in a team with poor form. Short-sighted, but somehow still rather reasonable. With Jadon Sancho, Christian Pulisic and Maximilian Philipp being key creators on the flanks, the 28-year old Ukrainian might be seen like an old lump that was signed as a short-term solution to a non-existent problem. He was a luxury signing, a signing they wanted, but never needed. Therefore, he’s leaving and this is also why Dortmund were so keen on selling.
He has that special something, that glimpse of flair that can turn a whole football club upside down if utilised perfectly. His creativity and speed always put him into good positions and his decent finishing can be proven by his goal scoring record, even though this might be his main weakness in attack. If used correctly, West Ham will have a gem. A player capable of producing special moments.
Having watched Yarmolenko for some time, the answer to the question: “Is he ready for the Premier League?” is yes. He has the strength, the size and the tenacity for the Premier League and so Yarmolenko should have no problem fitting into a team coached by Manuel Pellegrini, someone who has seen it all. He has ended up in a team where he will be their main attacking outlet, their key in attack and threat up top.
Yarmolenko relished in this role at Dynamo Kyiv and did well in a similar key role at Dortmund, until it all crumbled under the immense pressure of itself. He can be used as a secondary striker, as the main striker or as a winger, cutting in from either flank. The versatility and speed make him a potent attacker for a club like West Ham and they have done extremely well to sign him. This might also be Andriy’s last chance in Europe, his last shot at European fame and success and to surpass that eternal eventuality of his own potential brilliance.
By Axel Falk.