Artem Dovbyk’s path from Ukraine’s third tier to La Liga’s finest finisher

After unsuccessful spells in Denmark and Moldova, the striker joined Girona and became a scoring sensation

It was January 2018 when Midtjylland moved for a striker they had been watching for six months. Artem Dovbyk had been playing in Ukraine’s third tier for most of that time but the 20-year-old had something different. Rather than being dragged into the morass around him he had risen above it, handling himself physically against grizzled opponents and scoring almost a goal a game. The Danish club needed a replacement for Alexander Sørloth, who was about to earn them a windfall by joining Crystal Palace. That transfer went through and, on the same day, Dovbyk’s arrival from Dnipro was confirmed. The towering No 9s were ships in the Jutland night.

Last season their worlds collided at last. Dovbyk’s hat-trick for Girona against Granada in May meant he leapfrogged Sørloth, now of Villarreal, in a two-way contest to be La Liga’s top scorer. The vaunted Pichichi was his and, from nowhere, he had become one of the most sought-after centre-forwards in the world. The 26-year-old will lead the line for Ukraine when they begin their Euro 2024 campaign against Romania on Monday and it is a far cry from the early years of a career in which, for all his raw promise, little has come easy.

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