Talents such as Willian, Douglas Costa and Fred have made their way from Ukraine’s top division into Europe’s elite and Dynamo Kyiv’s Viktor Tsygankov has shown the necessary attributes to make that leap in recent seasons. After a breakout campaign in the 2017/18 season, the now 22-year-old has put up great numbers in the following seasons. The 2019/20 season has proved to be a slightly less fruitful season for the winger as he has 15 goal contributions in 23 Premier Liga games as well as five in six in the Europa League. Those numbers are still very good, which goes to show the ceiling that Tsygankov has as a player.
Having proved himself in Ukraine and in European competition, Tsygankov will likely move on to a team within the top five leagues. This tactical analysis will take a look at the winger’s player profile and then we will compare his statistics with his peers, which will allow us to come to a conclusion whether he can make the step up to feature for a big team.
Goalscoring and finishing
To begin this analysis, we will start by looking at Tsygankov’s finishing. The Ukraine international is a player that always has an eye for goal whenever attacking and that has helped him achieve a tally of 13 goals this season, with 10 coming in the league.
His shot numbers are superb for a winger even in the Ukrainian top division. In all games he has played a minimum of 50 minutes, he takes an average of 3.26 shots per game with 1.36 of them hitting the target. These numbers are close to what strikers would have and so is a positive sign. It should be noted that these numbers will likely decrease if he does make the move to a top team in Europe so his goal-scoring numbers will take a hit. However, given his superb shot numbers and threat from long distance, he still has the potential to score a lot of goals for a good team in the top five leagues.
Looking at his expected goals, they paint a similar picture. This is despite the fact that Tsygankov likes to take a lot of shots from outside the box and attempts quite a few direct free-kicks. This will reduce his xG per shot and thus, his overall xG. In the games he has played over 50 minutes, he has an xG of 0.53 per game, which is still very impressive. This means that he is expected to score every other game and for a winger, that is superb. In total, his xG is at 10.63 in the league, which in this scenario is both a positive and a negative. Wingers are not necessarily meant to be a goal threat so his xG numbers from that position are fantastic – in fact, they’re second-best in the league. It also gives credence to the idea that he can be better as great players tend to outperform their xG regularly.
The graphic above shows Tsygankov’s shot map from this season. He is picking up promising shot locations inside the box, shooting more centrally rather than the right-hand side. The graphic does showcase his favoured area outside the box, which makes him very predictable. Like Arjen Robben, master of cutting in and shooting from the right, it does show his quality in being able to get a good shot off in that position and speaks to his great left foot. His overreliance on his left foot does leave room for improvement though, as he only has 11 shots from his right foot this season out of a total of 99 with 80 of them being with his left.
To be able to have consistently high goal contribution numbers, you need to be an intelligent player offensively and Tsygankov is exactly that. The winger likes to play off of the opposition centre-back and full-back. He plays very narrow and picks up positions that are close to the striker. Dynamo Kyiv like to play with high full-backs, which gives Tsygankov the freedom to make these movements. This narrow position allows him to make good movements inside the box and quality movement in the box is very easily transferable to top teams.
The example below against Lugano in the Europa League showcases his style of movement well. Here, he does start deeper than usual but the principle remains the same. He has positioned himself between the lines but a direct pass into his lane is blocked off by the opposition midfielder. With Lugano’s defence slightly deeper, a lofted pass is available and Tsygankov curves his run to receive the ball in the left half-space between the centre-back and full-back.
An issue for Tsygankov at Kyiv is that he often makes great runs, especially in transition on the last line of the defence, but his teammates fail to play him in. Here, the 22-year-old catches the left-back out with an early run thanks to his great anticipation of play. The centre-back beside him pushed up to press Tsygankov’s teammate but since the other two defenders did not follow suit, it meant that the winger was onside and had huge space to run into. The player in possession opted to play the simple pass into the striker instead of a through ball to Tsygankov. This resulted in the striker being pressed and he decided to play it back to the midfielder, which allowed Malmo to regain their defensive shape.
Whilst an upgrade in team could mean that moves like the one above could be taken advantage of, his movement does still need some work. His movement route outside the box is very clear, moving into the half-space from a wide area, which makes him easy to mark. Of course, that is not to say he cannot make different runs or find good positions as he does make runs in behind a lot and can drop deeper if necessary but great coaching can unlock even more of his potential.
Creativity and assists
Over the last couple of seasons, a third of Tsygankov’s goal contributions have been assists. Normally, this speaks to a player’s ability to create chances but Tsygankov is a premier set-piece taker so his assist numbers could be inflated. Looking at his assist data, this can be confirmed as half of his assists in all competitions for Kyiv have been from either a free-kick or corner. While these showcase his quality in set-piece delivery, it’s a dent in his ability to help translate his assist numbers into teams where he might not be the resident set-piece taker.
We will take a look at the underlying numbers to see whether his open play creativity in the final third is still good enough to be able to create for a good team in a top-five league. Wingers tend to have a low number of key passes per game but at 0.6 per game, Tsygankov still has a relatively poor output in that department. Given his positioning and movement, it should be no surprise that the Ukrainian is a top performer in passes into the penalty area and has a very high success rate with 65.3% of his 4.5 passes completed.
Despite critiquing some of his open play quality, there are still moments where he can provide for his teammates. Below, is an example of him grabbing an assist that utilised his brilliant movement and anticipation.
Having played a pass into a teammate, he recognises that there is space to run into and knows that his teammates will find him. Having made the run into the box and received the ball, he plays a great pass across goal in a tight space to find the striker who has an easy tap in. Tsygankov is able to be creative in open play by using quick interchanges with his teammates as it minimises the use of difficult defence-splitting passes and allows him to use one of his best assets, which is his movement off the ball.
Tsygankov is not known for his passing ability but he has shown glimpses of quality in this department. He is usually on the receiving end of passes through the lines but the example below highlights that he has attributes to be a good creator.
There are two forward passing options for Tsygankov. The first is to play in the forward who is tightly marked or he can play it to the right-back who is high up the pitch. Tsygankov chooses to directly play in the right-back, which is a much more difficult pass. However, if done right, it forces the opposition defender to close the right-back down leaving his teammate in the box free to make a move. Tsygankov is able to find the right-back with a pinpoint pass and the right-back wins a corner after his cross was cleared by an opposition defender in the box.
While being a creative player in the open play might not be his strongest suit, he has the talent to produce moments and his underlying statistics paint a similar picture in terms of his creative output. Combined with his lethal set-piece delivery, it can be said that Tsygankov is a good creator and if given set-piece duties in a top club in a top-five league, he can see similar creative output.
Comparison with Premier Liga players
To look at how good Tsygankov is for Kyiv in the league, he will have to compare favourably against players in his positions. The list will include players who played in the wing position and have more than 1000 Premier Liga minutes. First, we will look at how the 22-year-old compares in his progressive runs and passes. Wingers are crucial components for a team’s ability to progress the play, with their usual direct style of play forcing the team higher up the pitch. Progressive runs are a good indicator of whether a winger can carry the ball into more advanced areas. Progressive passes can give us an idea of how often a player tries advanced solutions.
Tsygankov compares decently in these categories as the graph showcases but he is nowhere close to being at the top in either category. 7.8 progressive passes per game are a good amount for wingers but the lack of progressive runs, 2.52 per game, is concerning. The lack of runs indicates that his movement is most likely better in the box than out of it, a hypothesis that was proven to be true earlier on.
Above, we are looking at the Ukrainian’s dribbling quality. Dribbling is an important asset for a winger to have since they are usually required to beat an opposition defender to either progress the play, create or score. Wingers with great dribbling will also be able to get out of opposition traps and double teams, which will help the team in since it can give the team an added dimension in their attack. 5.46 dribbles per game is a great number of dribbles but compared to the players in his position in the league, he is once again way off the top ranks. It should be noted that he does rank in the higher tier in terms of success rate with nearly 60% of his dribbles being successful. However, with defences much tougher to beat in the top five leagues, his dribbling success will likely drop. It’s not to say that he isn’t good at dribbling but that there are definite improvements to be made in that area. He is certainly capable of beating a man but the numbers cast doubt on his ability to beat defenders at an elite and consistent level. Overall, the numbers are still solid and a good foundation to build on.
Next, we are going to look at Tsygankov’s creative abilities. Most wingers are judged on their goals and assists but this will help us look into the finer details of their creativity. As with dribbling, being able to create adds another outlet for the team. To judge a player’s creating abilities, we are looking at their ability to cross and pass into the box for teammates, which in turn will allow them to have a better goalscoring opportunity. Despite his superb set-piece deliveries, he is very low in terms of crosses per game with 2.25 per game. However, this is likely more of an indictment on Kyiv’s style of play rather than Tsygankov’s ability. He does rank highly in passes into the box, which was touched upon earlier in the analysis, as only six players have a higher value in this category. Therefore, in terms of creativity, the underlying numbers are a plus.
Finally, we are going to take a look at the winger’s combined expected assists and goals per game, which will help determine the quality of a player’s attacking output. Expected assists and goals are a great predictor for how well a player will fare in the future in terms of their attacking output. As a side note, a combined xA and xG value above 0.7 should be regarded as elite output and a value above 0.5 should be regarded as great output. In this category, Tsygankov excels the most, ranking joint-top with Marlos on a combined xA and xG of 0.76. This is an elite return and with expected goals being the best indicator for future success as of right now, it means that there is huge potential in terms of attacking output for Tsygankov to unlock. Of course, this value will likely decrease if he plays in a top-five league but it is a sensational return, especially at his age, regardless.
The graphic below showcases the necessary underlying numbers that should be looked at to analyse Tsygankov from a statistical standpoint. We have touched on the minimal key passes per game as well as the impressive shot numbers. One thing that hasn’t been looked at is his defensive contribution. A return of 4.27 successful defensive contribution is pretty good for a winger and suggests that he is a hard worker defensively. This can be seen in the film as he does trackback to help his full-back out and is a willing presser of the ball. He does lack quality in this department, which means the numbers are slightly less than they could be, as he often has the right idea but fails to execute. For example, his defensive positioning is good but he could often be in a position of intercepting a cross or a pass. The sheer presence defensively does also not come in the numbers that do come in the film, so he is a positive on defence too.
Areas for improvement
While there are improvements to be made in each category that we have discussed, there are some patterns in his play that can be fixed. We have already mentioned Tsygankov’s overreliance on his left foot and his slight lack of creativity in open play – two issues that should be addressed. However, there is an issue that does come up in his play and that is in his decision making.
Whilst the winger is one of the more unselfish wingers you can come across, there are situations where he does get shot happy, as can be seen by his shot map earlier in the analysis. This can also be seen in the image below, where Tsygankov has received the ball after an early turnover from the opposition.
He has two passing options on the left, who most likely will have a chance on goal from closer. However, he chooses to take the shot from that position, which gets blocked by the defender. Whilst Tsygankov has good ability to shoot from distance and the keeper was slightly out of position, the right play was to make the pass. This does happen sometimes, which is common for attacking players, but he could become an even bigger threat if he constantly makes the right play and chooses the correct decision.
Now that we have looked at Tsygankov’s scout report and made a comparison with his peers in Ukraine, we can conclude whether he can make the step up to a team in a top-five league. The answer to that is a resounding yes given his excellent attacking output, obvious set-piece quality and finishing. However, the level of the club that should sign him is more in doubt given that he is far from the finished product. In this scout report, we have critiqued him but it has to be noted that the winger is only 22-year-old so there are bound to be holes in his game and performances. With his evident ability on show at such a young age, the underlying numbers and his youth indicate that there is a good upside if Tsygankov was signed by a club.
Looking back at Ukrainian exports, such as Willian and Andriy Yarmolenko, Tsygankov has put up better numbers than the big-name players did in Ukraine. Having performed brilliantly in Europe too, a move to a Champions League side is possible. Leicester City, if they do qualify, possibly a good destination for him given Marc Albrighton’s age on the right-hand side. If James Maddison doesn’t leave, Tsygankov’s output will likely take a hit since the Englishman is a superb set-piece specialist. Manchester United do need a right-winger but they are heavily linked with a move for Jadon Sancho and so a move to the Premier League giants is highly unlikely. A move to Valencia could be on the cards too if wonderkid Ferran Torres were to leave. Many top teams do not require a right-winger urgently so a place for Tsygankov is yet to be available. He is currently valued at around the £15m mark, which if signed at that price, would be a fantastic bargain as his quality is easy to see and he has great potential to succeed in the future too.