Vitalii Mykolenko finally justifies his £17m price tag as Everton star tops Premier League charts
After a few difficult seasons on Merseyside, it feels as though Everton have finally hit their groove under Sean Dyche as they begin to look up the Premier League table.
The Toffees headed into the international break off the back of an impressive four-game unbeaten run in all competitions, which culminated in a dramatic late 3-2 against Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park.
While Idrissa Gueye’s late strike stole the headlines, Viatlii Mykolenko opened the scoring against Palace after only a minute of action. That strike was the Ukrainian’s second of the campaign as he has slightly surprisingly become one of the Premier League’s best left-backs.
According to WhoScored.com (15 November), no left-back in England’s top tier has received a higher rating than the Everton star, who has received an average mark of 7.31 in his eight appearances this season.
It has perhaps gone slightly under the radar just how well the 24-year-old has started the season for the Toffees. Currently, he sits in the top one per cent of the Premier League’s fullbacks for non-penalty goals scored per 90 minutes and the 88th percentile for non-penalty xG [Fbref].
Despite both of Mykolenko’s goals being fairly fortunate this season, there are very few defenders that have taken more shots than the Ukrainian, who is averaging more than one shot a match, better than 82 per cent of his positional peers.
While his displays going forward have caught the eye of most, the 24-year-old has been incredibly sturdy on the left of Dyche’s backline. He sits in the top one per cent of fullbacks for tackles made per match, with an average of more than four tackles every 90 minutes.
Similar is true in terms of interceptions, where Mykolenko places in the 96th percentile of fullbacks in England’s top flight. The only area in which the Everton man struggles is when he enters the final third and looks for teammates as 99 per cent of the league’s fullbacks complete more progressive passes than the Ukrainian.
Luckily, the creative force of Dwight McNeil ahead of him has made up for his lack of final ball, as the Englishman is always keen to aim crosses into the penalty area in search of Dominic Calvert-Lewin.
Few would have expected such an impressive upturn in form for Mykolenko this season, given his previous struggles since his £17 million move from Dynamo Kyiv [talkSPORT].
But he has been integral to the change of fortunes under Dyche this year. If Everton want to continue to climb the Premier League table, ensuring that he stays fit and maintains this form will be a huge factor in the coming months.