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Spotlight on…Yaroslav Rakitskiy

For the latest instalment of the ‘Spotlight on…’ series, Sport Report stays in the Ukraine and runs the rule over another Shakhtar Donetsk player, defender Yaroslav Rakitskiy.

Defenders are often unheralded and do not receive the attention afforded their attacking counterparts. A mean defence has however, been key to Shakhtar Donetsk’s success this season and one reason for this has been the emergence of 21 year old Ukrainian centre back Yaroslav Rakitskiy. Granted, Shakhtar did concede six goals over two games to Pep Guardiola’s Barcelona, but one can hardly judge a defence on what happens against Messi, Villa and co. A look at the club’s domestic defensive record reveals a picture of excellence: ten goals conceded in 25 games with Rakitskiy playing an increasingly important role.

The youngster initially broke into the Shakhtar side last season and impressed as he made 37 appearances in all competitions, including eight in the Europa League. His performances earned him a call-up to the Ukrainian national team in October 2009, when he made his debut before scoring five days later in a World Cup qualifier against Andorra. He has continued in the same vein this season and cemented his place in the senior national side.

Yaroslav Rakitskiy challenges Arsenal's Theo Walcott (This image is the property of Getty Images)

Much like fellow Shakhtar player Douglas Costa, he has benefitted from the club’s run in the Europa League and Champions League. These runs have given Rakitskiy greater exposure and fans, managers and scouts are becoming increasingly familiar with him. Rakitskiy has not received the same kind of attention as more attacking players such as Costa, but there have been whispers of a move to Premier League giants Arsenal, with Arsene Wenger keen to bolster his defence. The Arsenal manager was reportedly impressed when the sides met earlier this season and he fits the criteria of a defensive player who can benefit the Gunners for years to come. Rakitskiy may, however, want to take a look at the career of his club and international teammate Dmytro Chygrynskiy who moved to Barcelona in August 2009 for £22 million. He failed to settle in Spain and returned to the Donbass Arena.

The 21 year old is a modern, footballing centre back who is technically very capable, can pass accurately and has a hammer of a left foot. He is an excellent reader of the game, something which is seen in his ability to spot danger early and stamp it out and his clean tackling is similar to that of Rio Ferdinand. Furthermore, he has the ability to play centre back or left back and this versatility will only serve him well in the future.

Time will tell if Rakitskiy makes a move to a more glamorous, big name club. It should be stressed that with Shakhtar being owned by Ukrainian billionaire Rinat Akhmetov, winning things domestically and improving in Europe, a move is not a necessity. Should he wish, he could stay at Shakhtar and try and help them become a force for years to come. Whatever he may choose to do, he certainly has the talent to make sure he enjoys a fruitful career.

Yaroslav Rakitskiy

Name: Yaroslav Volodymyrovych Rakitskiy

Place of Birth: Pershotravensk, Dnipropetrovsk Oblast, Soviet Union (now Ukraine)

Nationality: Ukrainian

Date of Birth: 3rd August 1989

Career League Appearances: 41

Career League Goals: 1

Total Career Appearances: 65

Total Career Goals: 4

International Caps: 10

International Goals: 3

Key Attributes: reads the game very well, passing ability, versatile

Categories: Football
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