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Mykola Matviyenko: A profile of Shakhtar Donetsk’s defensive star

Mykola Matviyenko

It is fair to say that Mykola Matviyenko is not a household name. Now that Arsenal are interested that all changes. For those in the dark, we will try to provide answers and show you just what the Gunners may lay their hands on.

According to Football London, representatives of Matviyenko have claimed that Arsenal have touched base, hoping to do a deal that would see the central defender arrive on the 1st February.

Mykola Matviyenko – Style of Play

To be honest with you, I knew very little of Mykola Matviyenko until yesterday afternoon. I sat down, gathered various statistics and watched raw footage of the young defender, who was born in the highly volatile region of Crimea on the Ukrainian-Russian border.

It is always a risk signing a defender that plays on the front foot. Shkodran Mustafi was and still is one of those, and you see the hate he gets all across social media for his constant mistakes. Matviyenko is cut from the same cloth. His aggression in challenges makes him a difficult contender for any striker, and this can cause him trouble. However, it’s his reading of the game that separates him from Arsenal’s blunder-prone German.

Averaging almost three interceptions per game in the Champions League (WhoScored), the 23-year-old garnered particular attention following Shakhtar Donetsk’s game against Manchester City. His ability to anticipate passes is crucial, as he is then able to launch a quick attack. Mykola Mativiyenko has made 26 key passes in 35 games this season (all comps, inc. internationals). That, quite frankly, is astonishing. His powerful left foot allows him to propel diagonal and line-breaking passes to more advanced teammates. A huge asset.

Negatives?

However, there is a downfall. Arsenal are one of the most pressed teams in the Premier League. This is mainly down to their inability to play the ball out of the back on a consistent level. This could certainly trouble Mavtviyenko. His hefty one-footedness often leads him to step over the ball to allow space to play. This is fine in the Ukrainian Premier Division. But, shrewd teams in the Premier League will catch onto this and make life very uncomfortable for the six-foot central defender, who can also operate as a left back or defensive-midfielder.

Overall, it seems like a good move from Arsenal. There is plenty of time for development and Matviyenko already has key attributes that many teams would love to hold in their ranks. It is whether Arsenal would prefer him over Dayot Upamecano. Neverthless, it all remains to be seen over the coming weeks…

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