Football [soccer] in Ukraine, like most activities we once took for granted, has been severely disrupted by, first, the COVID-19 pandemic and then by Russia’s full-scale invasion. It should be no surprise, therefore, that many of its biggest footballing names and some of those not so well-known took the opportunity to play elsewhere.

The US football statistics site us.soccerway.com lists more than 200 Ukrainian footballers who play for sides in Europe. This includes current internationals playing in the premier leagues of 38 European countries, including England, Spain, Germany, Italy and France, but even more playing in the lower leagues. There are also Ukrainians playing at all levels in a diverse range of countries including the USA, Cambodia, China, Thailand and Indonesia.

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Here is a purely subjective assessment of Ukraine’s current top ten footballers:

ENGLAND

Oleksandr Zinchenko – a 26-year-old current Ukrainian international who began his career at Russian Premier League team Ufa before joining Manchester City in 2016, for a fee of $2 million and moved to Arsenal in July 2022 for a fee of $35 million.

Mykhailo Mudryk – the 22-year-old Ukrainian international began his career in the academies of Metalist Kharkiv and Dnipro, before moving to Shakhtar Donetsk in 2016. In January, he moved to English club Chelsea in a transfer worth around €100 million, making him the most expensive Ukrainian footballer of all time. Having struggled to live up to that billing he seems to have turned the corner under the guidance of Mauricio Pochettino, Chelsea’s new coach.

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Vitaliy Mykolenko – the 24-year-old international is a product of the Dynamo Kyiv youth system who made his senior debut in August 2017 before being named as Ukraine’s young player of the year in the 2018–19 season. He joined the English premier league side Everton in January 2022 for an undisclosed fee.

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SPAIN

Andriy Lunin – the 24-year-old goalkeeper is a product of the FC Metalist youth system. After three seasons playing for the Ukrainian sides of Dnipro and Zorya Luhansk, he was transferred to Real Madrid for around €13 million in June 2018. He was loaned out to several other Spanish teams before making his first team debut in January 2021. He has primarily been an understudy to Thibaut Courtois but a regular in Ukraine’s Under-21 international team.

Viktor Tsyhankov – the 25-year-old international was born in Israel to his footballing father, Vitalii. He came up through the Nyva Vinnytsia and Dynamo Kyiv academy systems, making his debut for Dynamo in August 2016 and became a regular international in 2018. In January he joined La Liga side Girona.

Roman Yaremchuk – the 27-year-old is a striker for La Liga side Valencia on loan from Belgian Pro League side Club Brugge and Ukraine’s national team. After coming through Dynamo Kyiv's youth academy, he began playing for the first team in 2015 before moving to Belgian side Gent in 2018. A year later, he moved to Benfica in a transfer worth €18.5 million, before returning to Belgium the following season, to sign for Club Brugge for a transfer worth €16 million. Yaremchuk has been a full international since September 2018.

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UKRAINE

Andriy Yarmolenko – the 33-year-old Ukrainian international captain returned to play for Dynamo Kyiv once again in June after a varied career that began with Dynamo in 2007. He moved to Borussia Dortmund in 2017 and then England’s West Ham United in 2018 for four seasons before a season with the United Arab Emirates club Al-Ain that began in July 2022.

Andriy Pyatov – the 39-year-old Ukrainian international goalkeeper retired at the end of the 2022-23 season after 17 years and 482 appearances for Shakhtar Donetsk. He also was Ukraine’s first-choice goalkeeper getting 102 caps from his debut in 2007 to his final game in July 2022.

ITALY

Ruslan Malinovskyi – the 30-year-old played for Shakhtar Donetsk for five years from 2011 before joining Belgian side Genk in 2016, initially on loan. In July 2019, Malinovskyi signed for Italian club Atalanta before moving to French Ligue 1 side Marseille in January who sent him on loan to newly promoted Italian Serie A side Genoa.

PORTUGAL

Anatoliy Trubin – the Donetsk-born 22-year-old began his youth career at Azovstal-2 Mariupol before joining Shakhtar Donetsk’s academy in 2014. He made his first team debut in May 2019, before taking the club legend’s place of Andriy Pyatov. In August 2023, he joined Primeira Liga club Benfica on a 5-year-contract. He currently competes against Andriy Lunin to secure the position of first-choice goalkeeper for the international team.

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