Leicester City should swoop for prolific Ukrainian striker if Kelechi Iheanacho seals Everton move: Opinion
He would likely cost eight figures, but Artem Dovbyk would be the perfect physical presence up top for the Foxes if Iheanacho leave
Leicester City have recouped the best part of nearly £80 million on their two stars James Maddison and Harvey Barnes this summer, and there could be more of that to come.
Other Foxes players are being linked with moves away from the King Power Stadium following their relegation from the Premier League, including Wilfred Ndidi and Boubakary Soumare who could both bring in decent fees.
Then there is striker Kelechi Iheanacho, who has less than 12 months remaining on his contract with City and it is believed that he is high on Everton’s list when it comes to adding to their attacking options this summer.
Should the Nigeria international depart then new head coach Enzo Maresca would still have the experienced Jamie Vardy and Zambia forward Patson Daka, but he’d have to go into the transfer market for more fire-power.
And perhaps the perfect striker who could be available – albeit for an eight-figure fee – is Ukrainian goalscorer Artem Dovbyk
Who is Artem Dovbyk?
Dobvyk is probably pretty much an unknown to most English football fans, but he has been scoring goals for fun in Ukraine for the last two years.
The 26-year-old started off at the now-defunct FC Cherkashchyna in the second tier of Ukrainian football before joining top-flight Dnipro – another club that has since dissolved – in 2015 as an 18-year-old.
Prolific in the second tier for Dnipro in 2017-18 by scoring 12 goals in 13 outings, Danish outfit FC Midtjylland – a pretty good stepping stone club in recent years to better things – took a chance on the youngster in January 2018, but he failed to really make an impact in Denmark and in 2020 he returned to his home nation with Dnipro-1.
After a quiet first season back in Ukraine in-front of goal, Dovbyk has exploded into life since the 2021-22 campaign, scoring 43 goals in 57 appearances in all competitions – including a five-goal haul in the Europa Conference League last season from seven appearances.
By far and away the best striker in the Ukrainian Premier League last season with 24 goals, Dovbyk is a strong, 6 foot 2 inch striker who isn’t slow and seems to find himself in the right place at the right time on a lot of occasions, and he also packs a powerful shot from distance.
He can do it on the international stage as well with six goals scored in 18 outings for Ukraine, and it’s only a matter of time before he moves to either a top European league or he could join one of the Championship’s big hitters instead.
How much would Artem Dovbyk cost?
Goalscoring strikers are worth their weight in gold, and even though the general standard of the Ukrainian Premier League could potentially be questioned – coefficient-wise they are the 14th-best top flight in Europe behind the likes of Serbia, Switzerland and Austria – Dovbyk looks like a special talent.
Yes, he’s now 26 years of age so there’s not guaranteed to be lots of improvement left in his game, but the move to Championship level, where there will be several Premier League-quality teams, would surely help him squeeze out that added last bit to his arsenal.
Leicester would have to pay a big fee for Dovbyk though – suggestions are that La Liga outfit Girona are in talks with Dnipro-1 for a potential move to Spain for the striker and that a €15 million (£12.94 million) fee is being touted.
Championship clubs have signed strikers for that much though in the past – Britt Assombalonga is one who went for £15 million to Middlesbrough whilst Ross McCormack and Jonathan Kodjia were both signed by Aston Villa for over the £10 million mark.
The Foxes would of course have to move quick given Girona’s interest, but they’ve spent big fees this summer already on Harry Winks and Conor Coady, so they can stretch the purse-strings out a bit more for a player of Dovbyk’s talent.