Five things on Ruslan Malinovskyi

Malinovskyi is a 51-time Ukraine international who has lit up Sere A for the last few seasons, after joining Atalanta from Genk in 2019, and that he has become available is something of a surprise.


A versatile midfielder who has a goal in him – many of them of the long-range variety – Malinovskyi promises to add potency to an already strong OM squad. takes a closer look…


1) Finding a tune with Shakhtar


Malinovskyi was born into a family of musicians in Zhytomyr, a city in north-western Ukraine, in 1993, but football was always more his rhythm, and he joined the Shakhtar Donetsk youth system at the age of 13.


By the age of 19, he had 10 goals in 39 games for that age group team, but with the likes of Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Douglas Costa and Willian in his way, he was sent on a succession of loans – to Sevastopol and Zorya Luhansk – before leaving Ukraine in 2015 without ever making his senior debut for Shakhtar.


2) Big break in Belgium


Genk then took a gamble on Malinovskyi’s talent, first signing him on a two-year loan before making that move permanent for just €2 million in 2017. By this time a full Ukraine international, Malinovskyi went on to fire le Racing to the Jupiler Pro League title in 2018/19.


With 13 goals and 12 assists that term, and the club’s Player of the Season award under his belt, there was very little keeping Malinovskyi out of the hands of bigger clubs, and Atalanta won the race for his signature – reportedly ahead of Napoli, Sampdoria and Valencia – for €15m in the summer of 2019.


Ruslan Malinovskyi, Kylian Mbappé, Ukraine, France


3) Awesome with Atalanta


Malinovskyi’s first goal for Atalanta came against Manchester City in the UEFA Champions League, and while that was a penalty, his penchant for spectacular strikes in the biggest games soon became apparent.


His four career goals in six meetings with Juventus are worth a YouTube video highlight alone. His first against the Old lady gave Atalanta their first victory in the fixture for 20 years, although his second wasn’t enough to beat Juve to the Coppa Italia in May 2021.


It isn’t just about goals for Malinovskyi, though. In two of his three full Atalanta campaigns, Gian Piero Gasperini’s side finished third, and the season of that run to the Coppa Italia final, Malinovskyi had a league-high 12 assists.


4) Jack of all trades, master of some


Malinovskyi has been used in multiple midfield positions throughout his career, first breaking through as a No.10, often now used as a midfield anchor by his national team, but generally lining up on the right and cutting inside on his stronger left foot with Atalanta.


That versatility will prove useful to Igor Tudor at Marseille over the next six months if not beyond, although the coach has admitted himself he isn’t 100 per cent settled on how to use the 29-year-old.


“Ruslan was a target last summer,” he said. “He’s a quality player in the final third. He has a good shot and a lot of skill. We’ll have to see whether we use him as an attacker or in behind.”



5) Ukrainian connection


Malinovskyi will become the 10th Ukrainian player to ply their trade in Ligue 1 Uber Eats, and the second for Marseille following Pierre Pchenitchy, who turned out for the club back in the 1951/52 season.


Aleksandr Skocen was the first, the Canada-born forward making his French top-flight debut for OGC Nice three years prior to Pchenitchy’s for OM. He also scored the joint-most goals among his compatriots, his 23 for les Aiglons between 1948 and 1950 later matched by Oleksandr Zavarov for Nancy in 1995.


Malinovskyi might have been lining up against Mykola Kukharevych on Wednesday… if Troyes hadn’t loaned him to Scottish outfit Hibs.

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