Artem Dovbyk, the Ukrainian giant from Girona | Soccer | Sports

He was a stranger when he landed in Girona. Introverted, hieratic, with barely any knowledge of Spanish and communicating in English. He now rubs shoulders with the European elite without breaking a sweat, without fear, without vertigo. “I don’t have any pressure,” he said on the day of his presentation with the Catalan team. If Girona is the revelation team of the season, Artem Dovbyk (Cherkasy, Ukraine; 26 years old) is the surprise player: top scorer in the League with 14 goals – one every 90 minutes – and five assists – the same goals as Jude Bellingham, but two more decisive passes. Discreet player, not to celebrate excessively, who could go unnoticed despite his height of 1.89 meters if it weren’t for his football. “He’s like most players from the east. Shy, but disciplined. Not very expressive, but with a cool head that can help him in his position,” explains Jordi Gratacós, former sports director of the FC Dnipro academy who signed the player when he was 18 years old. He even compares him to Haaland.

In the last game, against Sevilla, Dovbyck scored a hat trick in just six minutes and 33 seconds: the first with a header, the second after a triangulation with Savinho and Portu, and the last one in which he left Sergio Ramos standing in the area . “His ability to interpret the tactical meaning of technical action is surprising. And the three goals on Sunday prove it,” says Gratacós. The public applauded Artem: if for the fans Christian Stuani is the king, Dovbyk is the prince.

The Uruguayan and the Ukrainian make up the most feared forward pairing in the League. Dovbyk’s letter of introduction was a first goal after just five touches of the ball on the first day against Real Sociedad. “The adaptation he has had is extraordinary, from the first minute he has made a difference,” says Gratacós. The beginning of it was a declaration of intentions and a warning of what would happen some time later: Girona leading the domestic competition with a recently landed player as top scorer.

“Is incredible. The speed of Savio, the verticality of Portu, Viktor and Artem. Dovbyk has that ability to score a goal,” said Míchel after the match against Alavés, where the Ukrainian showed his presence, scored two goals and was chosen as MVP of the match. Merits that allowed him to become the best player of the month of December in the League. “Dovbyk is very good and is very happy in Girona and with the team. He has a friend, Viktor who has made his introduction to the club a good one. He is a differential player, and both he and Stuani are top-level forwards,” added the coach.

Artem arrived at Girona last summer as the most expensive signing in its history: 7.75 million euros for 70% of his rights for five seasons, until June 2028. He was presented under a requirement that was not at all easy to assume: replace the departure of Taty Castellanos. To get into the team he had the help of Viktor, a buddy and teammate from the Ukrainian team who landed in the Catalan club a few months before. He mentioned it several times during his presentation, it was key in signing him, and also in his adaptation. A duo that understands each other perfectly on the field and off it.

Before Girona, Dovbyk played for teams in Moldova, Denmark and, above all, his native country. “In 2015 I signed Dovbyk, who played in Cherkassy – his hometown – and we incorporated him into the second team. He was already a physical and very powerful player,” Gratacós shares about his beginnings. At SC Dnipro-1 was where Girona signed him. Last season he scored 29 goals in 39 games in the three competitions he played. And thanks to his 24 goals and six assists, he became the top scorer in the Ukrainian Premier. Although his first hat-trick in Spain came on Sunday, he had already completed four others at his previous club.

“He is one of the four best center forwards in the world,” shares, without a hint of doubt, the former sports director. And he adds: “Within the same player he has two different profiles: he is capable of playing in a proactive team, but also reactive. He is capable of playing with his back, as a third man, or also in space, because he is very fast. Furthermore, in his case, it is shown that the physique is not at odds with the technique and quality.”

The figures allow Girona to continue climbing. With 51 goals in the League in 21 games, he has already managed to be the leader with 52 points, one more than his best record. This season they have come back up to eight times. And the numbers encourage us to look outwards at the rest of the major European leagues: in the Premier League, the top scorer is Manchester City (48), in Serie A it is Inter (49), in the Bundesliga Bayern leads in goals. (52) and in Ligue 1 PSG commands (44).

“I don’t like to talk about figures,” said Dovbyk upon arriving in Catalonia about his signing. But now it is the numbers that support him as a great forward leader in the League.

He has played 20 League games – 16 as a starter – and has accumulated 1,255 minutes. He lives in La Vinya – Girona’s training center – where he arrived quietly, along with his friend and compatriot Tsygankov. He does not yet master Spanish, he interacts more with those players who speak English and Míchel’s assistants act as translators of his orders. Although Julius, the club’s kit man, also usually acts as an intermediary. But the language barrier is not a problem for Dovbyk, who understands perfectly what Girona needs, and gives it to them: goals and chances to continue being the leader in the League. A giant that no longer goes unnoticed.

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