Why Man United should take a punt on Ukrainian starlet Vitaliy Mykolenko
According to the Daily Express, Manchester United are ready to turn their attention to Dynamo Kyiv left-back Vitaliy Mykolenko after being left frustrated in their pursuit of FC Porto star Alex Telles.
As per the report, Red Devils boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer remains determined to bring in a new left-back who offers a greater attacking threat than current first-choice Luke Shaw. Telles is still very much a target for the club, but with a deal yet to materialise for the Brazilian, United are now prepared to explore other avenues.
United were also interested in Spanish left-back Sergio Reguilon earlier in the summer but he eventually ended up joining Tottenham after transfer talks with Real Madrid failed to reach a positive conclusion.
A product of the famous Dynamo Kyiv academy, Vitaliy Mykolenko made his first-team debut for the Ukrainian giants during the 2017-18 season. He has since carved out a reputation for himself as one of the best young talents coming out of Eastern Europe.
The 21-year-old caught the eye in the 2018-19 and 2019-20 editions of the Europa League and has accumulated an impressive tally of 5 goals and 13 assists in 78 appearances for Dynamo Kyiv in all competitions.
Mykolenko, who represented Ukraine across several age-group levels between U-17 and U-21, has also accumulated 8 senior international caps.
Mykolenko could be a good long-term investment for United
United aren’t really short of cover in the left-back department, with Luke Shaw presently the first-choice and highly-rated academy prospect Brandon Williams proving his worth as an able understudy in the previous campaign.
With that in mind, the Red Devils need to make sure that whoever comes through the door at Old Trafford would offer something different to what they already have. Porto’s Alex Telles presents an upgrade on Shaw and Williams in terms of his attacking prowess, given the Brazilian’s excellent track record of goals and assists in Portugal.
However, United might be better off looking at a younger option like Vitaliy Mykolenko, with Telles set to turn 28 later in the year. The Ukrainian international might not be as popular as the likes of Telles or Reguilon but his talent and potential certainly can’t be called into question.
According to Whoscored, Mykolenko averaged more interceptions (2), more key passes (1.3), more crosses (2.2), and more successful long balls (3.3) per game than Williams (0.9 interceptions, 0.8 key passes, 0.2 crosses, and 0.1 long balls) in the Europa League last season.
The 21-year-old Ukrainian starlet also bettered Luke Shaw’s average of 0.3 crosses, 2.3 long balls, and 1 interception per game in the same competition last year. That comparison clearly suggests that Mykolenko would offer United with greater attacking threat and creativity from the wide areas while he also seems more than capable defensively.
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Vitaliy Mykolenko has already proven his credentials in Ukraine while also making a name for himself in the Europa League. Considering that he still has plenty of room for development at 21, the Dynamo Kyiv starlet could offer better value for money in the market than someone like Telles as far as United are concerned.
Having said that, the Red Devils should firm up their interest in the Ukrainian international as he looks ready to make the step up to more competitive surroundings.