With only hours left before the transfer window closes, Liverpool have agreed to a £12 million deal, according to the Daily Star (h/t CaughtOffside), with Ukrainian midfielder Yevhen Konoplyanka, a strong winger who would bring an aggressive attacking game to Anfield.
Konoplyanka is exactly the player Liverpool need to make a push to the top of the Premier League. Though Konoplyanka has only made five appearances for FC Dnipro this season, the 24-year-old has scored three goals. What’s more, Konoplyanka has an accurate foot, shooting at a 77 percent shot accuracy.
As much as a strong scorer will help any team, Konoplyanka will be a valuable addition to the Reds because the Ukrainian is a highly effective passer that can play off either wing.
When Ukraine faced off against England in 2012, Martin Keown noted Konoplyanka’s incredible speed in The Daily Mail.
“[English defender] Kyle Walker had a torrid time against Ukraine winger Yevhen Konoplyanka. The 23-year-old Dnipro man is incredibly fast and Walker struggled with that. The Tottenham defender is used to relying on his pace to get him out of trouble but Konoplyanka was faster than him.”
Liverpool have won three of their last four games and have been a strong offensive squad this season, boasting the second-highest goal differential in the league (+29). The Reds are only four points behind Chelsea, but the Spurs are closing in on the other end, who sit within three points of Liverpool.
Because of this, the Reds’ lack of interest in defenders during the transfer window has been somewhat surprising, but as The Mirror’s Eliot Rothwell observed, there’s never a wrong time to sign a great player. “Whilst Liverpool might not necessarily ‘need’ another winger, the chance to sign the foremost Ukrainian player of his generation should not be discarded lightly.”
Though not an exceptionally strong defensive player, Konoplyanka would still provide a big boost for the Reds. The Ukrainian has a 50 percent success rate with take-ons and as Yahoo! UK’s Pitchside blog breaks down, Konoplyanka’s versatility is a huge asset.
“For a right-footed player stationed on the left wing, one would expect Konoplyanka to come infield more often. However, due to his ability to cross, pass and shoot just as well with his left as with his right, Konoplyanka often sprints down the touchline and stretches into the penalty box - something Raheem Sterling is brilliant at on the right-hand side.”
Because Konoplyanka has such a strong passing game from the midfield, his ability to provide assists for Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge would be essential for bolstering Liverpool’s frontline.
Konoplyanka would also help relieve midfield pressure from Jordan Henderson and act as another shooting midfielder to complement Steven Gerrard.
Prior to the announcement of the agreement with Liverpool, Konoplyanka had expressed strong interest in joining the Reds, making him an even more attractive prospect. On Friday, he told Timothy Abraham of The Daily Star, “I’m excited about it and soon everyone will know where I will play. Is it very serious with Liverpool? I am shocked myself at how serious it is.”