The fabulous assist that allowed Roman Yaremchuck to score the equalizer against the Netherlands in the group phase of the UEFA European Football Championship was not surprise to people that watch the Serie A. The Ukrainian Ruslan Malinovskyi has been the most successful attacking midfielder in Italian competition last season, with 12 assists.
Like Hans Hateboer and Marten de Roon, Ruslan Malinovskyi is an example of Atalanta’s superior scouting system. The Ukrainian was much more expensive than the Dutchman. Atalanta bought him for 14 million euros in 2015. He is the most expensive player in the club history after Luis Muriel (15 million), and Atalanta has now amply earned that money back. With his 12 assists, Malinovskyi did one better last season than Romelu Lukaku for champions Inter Milan.
With his crafty through balls towards Luis Muriel and Duvan Zapata, the Ukrainian had an important part in Atalanta’s third place last season, just ahead of Juventus. His precisely timed passes and cleanly placed corners, gave the Atalatanta top scorers all the opportunities that they needed.
Malinovskyi himself scored eight times in the Serie A last season. Precisely placed shots from afar, placed in the fas corners of the goal. are his speciality. On top of that, Malinovskyi scored goals from penalties and every now and then from free kicks: curled around the wall.
Before his transfer to Atalanta, Malinovskyi made an impression in the Belgian Pro League at Genk for four seasons, despite a long-term injury. In 135 games, he scored 30 goals and provided 32 assists.
The Belgians praised his enormous thighs, like a sprinter in cycling, his insight and his firepower. Shortly after his injury recovery, Dutch Genk-coach Albert Stuivenberg was only moderately enthusiastic: ‘He still has a lot to learn, but he is important to us, because he is my only left-footed midfielder’, he sayd in the Belgian daily het Nieuwsblad. ‘On top of that, he has specific qualities: Ruslan is good at kicking corners and free kicks, he also has an excellent long shot.’ In the end Malinovskyi proved to be very important in the Belgian championship of Genk in 2017.
Shots from afar were the trademark of the Malinovskyi even before his time in Italy and Belgium. In the 2014 UEFA League qualifiers, Malinovskyi scored twice against Feyenoord from more than 25 meters away, for Zorya Luhansk, in a match that the club from Rotterdam team won 4-3. The Dutch recently had a lot of problems with shots from a long distance in duels against Turkey and Scotland. Malinovskyi has barely scored in the Ukraine National Team however, only twice since his 2015 debut against Latvia.