Ukraine international Andrey Yarmolenko is a tailor-made successor to Ousmane Dembele at Borussia Dortmund. - © © imago
Ukraine international Andrey Yarmolenko is a tailor-made successor to Ousmane Dembele at Borussia Dortmund. - © © imago

Shades of Shevchenko in Borussia Dortmund's Dembele successor Andrey Yarmolenko


It takes a bold man to pick up the baton from the second most expensive player in world football, but Borussia Dortmund newcomer Andrey Yarmolenko has never been one to shirk a challenge. presents five things on the unflinching heir apparent to Barcelona chosen one Ousmane Dembele...

Watch: Yarmolenko makes Dortmund pledge

1) Growing pains

Born in the Russian city of St Petersburg, Yarmolenko moved to Ukraine, the country of his parents' birth, settling in the town of Chernihiv, 150 kilometres north of the capital Kiev. When he was 13, Yarmolenko joined Dynamo Kyiv's academy for a first time. "I only went there for a year and went back home," he explained. "It's not that I didn't like it or anything like that. Just at that time I was still weak, physically, and it was hard."

- © imago / ZUMA Press

2) The next Shevchenko

After playing with his local club, FC Desna Chernihiv, and honing his physique, Yarmolenko made the return trip to the capital and this time there was no going back. Quickly compared to local hero and fellow Dynamo youth academy product, Andriy Shevchenko, Yarmolenko rose through the ranks to make his first-team debut as a raw 19-year-old in May, 2008. To add to the aura of 'the new Sheva', Yarmolenko scored on his debut after coming off the bench ten minutes from time in Dynamo's league game with Vorskla Poltava. Not that it was a classic… "There was a scramble in the box, the ball bounced off the goalkeeper and I put it in from point-blank range," he explained. "I just got lucky."

4) Ukraine's finest

The collective success Yarmolenko contributed to has been allied with individual recognition. Named Ukrainian Footballer of the Year three times, sharing the honour in 2013 with former Dynamo team-mate and now Ruhr Valley derby rival, Schalke's Yevhen Konoplyanka, Yarmolenko was also voted the Ukrainian Premier League's top player in each of the last three seasons.

5) Bundesliga predecessors

Yarmolenko joins Konoplyanka and Bayer Leverkusen's Vladlen Yurchenko as one of three Ukrainians playing in the Bundesliga. The country has a rich tradition of high-class performers in the German top flight since Igor Belanov and Evgen Shakhov arrived to join Borussia Mönchengladbach and Kaiserslautern respectively just after the fall of the Berlin Wall in late 1989. Andriy Voronin, who played for Gladbach, Mainz, Cologne and Leverkusen during over a decade, and returned for loan spells at Hertha Berlin and Fortuna Düsseldorf later in his career, is one of the country's most successful exports. Voronin played 222 top-flight games in Germany, comfortably the most of any of his compatriots, but former international teammate Anatoliy Tymoshchuk far outstrips him in terms of medals. The midfielder played 86 Bundesliga games for Bayern Munich between 2009 and 2013, winning two titles, a pair of DFB Cups and the 2012/13 UEFA Champions League.

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