According to Express, Leeds United are battling West Ham in pursuit of Mykola Matviyenko. The Shakhtar Donetsk defender has emerged as the latest target for the newly-promoted Premier League outfit as Marcelo Bielsa looks to bolster his defensive options after the arrival of Robin Koch. Matviyenko played a key role in Shakhtar’s Europa League campaign this past season and is valued around £20 million.
Who is Mykola Matviyenko?
Matviyenko is one of the most in-demand players in Ukrainian football at the moment, having enjoyed stellar success at Shakhtar Donetsk over the past couple of years.
A centre-back by trade, the 24-year-old has impressed the onlookers with his defensive qualities, notably becoming an ever-present figure in the club’s backline this past season. He was also involved heavily in the Europa League where Shakhtar reached the semi-final.
Matviyenko is primarily known for his technical qualities as he is, after all, a ball-playing centre-back. The Ukrainian international has an exquisite range of passing and is capable of threading long, accurate diagonal balls from the back. Also, he is equipped with an excellent positional sense that allows him to cut off passing lanes.
The 24-year-old has the pace to cover ground quickly as well, which is also the reason why Matviyenko can additionally feature as a left-back or even as a right-back, if necessary.
An ideal replacement for Ben White?
Leeds United, it seems, will not be able to retain the services of Ben White, who is tipped to make a big-money move to a top Premier League club this summer. But in Matviyenko, manager Bielsa could bag a real bargain this summer.
Although it is hard to deduce whether or not the Ukrainian international will be an ideal replacement for White, he is equipped with all the qualities that might enable him to thrive at Elland Road.
Matviyenko’s ball-playing qualities, in particular, is sure to add another dimension to Leeds’ backline, although he must retain a level of composure when playing in a high-paced nature of football that is synonymous with the Premier League.
Meanwhile, the defender also has the pace that would allow Bielsa to deploy a high line of press, knowing Matviyenko is fully capable of recovering ground pretty quickly. It should, therefore, provide the Argentine mastermind with some much-needed tactical versatility.
Speaking of which, the fact that the 24-year-old can operate anywhere across the backline is only going to be a boost for a Leeds United side who are quite shallow in the fullback positions. Matviyenko, therefore, could be a massive coup for the Whites, though it remains to be seen whether or not he can replicate his performances in England.