Who is Viktor Tsygankov, the Ukrainian soccer player who had an impressive season at Girona and is catching the eye of Arsenal with his love for Star Wars?


It takes a lot to stand out as one of LaLiga’s breakout stars in the same year that a certain Jude Bellingham arrives on Spanish shores, devouring everything in his path. 

Ahead of the European Championship, though, that’s exactly what Girona’s Viktor Tsygankov has done. 

Tsygankov emerged as an 18-year-old at Dynamo Kyiv when he broke into the first-team and made his Champions League bow, and for many in Ukraine he has long been a figure of great excitement.  

‘It’s so rare to see such maturity in a player his age. Players like him love football more than anything – and that shows on the pitch.’

Viktor Tsygankov enjoyed a breakout season with eight goals and seven assists this season

Viktor Tsygankov enjoyed a breakout season with eight goals and seven assists this season

The Ukrainian star has been linked with a move to Arsenal, AC Milan and Tottenham of late

The Ukrainian star has been linked with a move to Arsenal, AC Milan and Tottenham of late

As a teenager he was compared to Ukrainian national icon Andriy Shevchenko by Dynamo Kyiv's president

As a teenager he was compared to Ukrainian national icon Andriy Shevchenko by Dynamo Kyiv’s president  

To contextualise just how high that praise is, Shevchenko is the greatest sporting national hero that Ukraine has, winning it all with AC Milan – including the Ballon d’Or – and is his country’s record appearance-maker, leading goal scorer and former manager. It’s like when we all said Kylian Mbappe was the next Thierry Henry. 

Now, eight years on, he is starting to show just what a frightening prospect he can still become, which is why clubs like Arsenal are being linked with his services. 

Teaming up with national team-mate Artem Dovbyk, the pair fired Michel’s upstarts into the top four and a first ever Champions League finish, and Europe’s elite are clearly taking note.

That Arsenal are being connected with a move to Tsygankov is actually no real surprise, even though his isn’t a name that many are overly familiar with. 

The left-footed winger can play off both the left and right – and we all know how important fluidity is to Mikel Arteta’s set up – and favours his weapon of a left foot, cutting in and dropping the shoulder to ruthless impact. 

In that sense, he resembles Bukayo Saka in his play style; a willingness and confidence to dazzle defenders with his footwork, and a preference to cut in off the right flank and cut the ball back for a cute finish inside the box. 

Just think about it – how many times have we seen the England star wriggle free down the right to tee up an on-rushing Martin Odegaard or Kai Havertz? Tsygankov has proved throughout the last eighteen months in Spain that this is where he’s at his best. 

Yet there is also an element of Gabriel Martinelli to his game. Where the Brazilian possesses blistering speed and energy, Tsygankov is a hair slower, but equally direct, charging through defensive lines as a lethal option on the counter. 

Artem Dovbyk finished as LaLiga's top scorer as he and Tsygankov fired Girona into the Champions League

Artem Dovbyk finished as LaLiga’s top scorer as he and Tsygankov fired Girona into the Champions League

Tsygankov's performances this season with Girona have caught the eye of a number of Europe's elite sides

Tsygankov’s performances this season with Girona have caught the eye of a number of Europe’s elite sides

Both Saka and Martinelli provide two perfectly balanced options in the Arsenal attack; the former a slick and slippery customer, the latter a bundle of raw energy. Tsygankov lies somewhere between these two, which is perhaps what Arsenal need.

No surprise, then, that the reports claim Arteta is already ‘in love’ with the player, who fits the bill for a big role in his side’s attacking set up. 

In addition to the ability to rest Saka from time to time on the right, Tsygankov would provide Arteta the luxury of shuffling his pack against a stubborn, low-block defence late in the game as the Gunners look to go again on four fronts for 2024-25. 

One sight that Arsenal fans – or any team that does pick up the Ukrainian – will have to get used to is the player holding a lightsaber aloft when he scores – a purple one for anyone wondering – paying homage to one of his favourite films, seemingly.

Tsygankov is set to feature heavily for a strong Ukraine side this summer, which could see his market value rise beyond the reported £25.5million approach the Gunners are believed to have made. 

That could prove a problem for Arsenal if they are looking to wrap up a deal early with few frills attached, although the initial report from AS claims that AC Milan have also shown interest. 

Tsygankov is a massive Star Wars fan judging by the lightsaber he regularly lifts when celebrating his goals

Tsygankov is a massive Star Wars fan judging by the lightsaber he regularly lifts when celebrating his goals 

The Ukrainian star is set to be a key part of Serhiy Rebrov's side's campaign at the Euros

The Ukrainian star is set to be a key part of Serhiy Rebrov’s side’s campaign at the Euros

While Girona are hopeful of keeping hold of their star forward until the end of his 2027 contract expiry date, in a recent interview with AS, Tsygankov opened the door to a move this summer ‘through the front door’. 

‘All players dream big, they want to play in big clubs, top leagues. I’m not unique in this,’ he said.

‘Since I was young I wanted to play at a high level and of course I like that there are important clubs in Europe looking out for me. I don’t really know what will happen. In football anything can happen.

‘Maybe I was able to play my last game, but I don’t know what will happen to my future.

‘Girona has given me a lot and I am very grateful. Furthermore, my family is very happy here and I am very comfortable.

‘If I’m still here in Girona, perfect, because I’m very happy and I enjoy what I do. If in the end the future says that I have to leave, I want to do it through the front door.’

Tsygankov has opened the door to a move but says he will only leave 'through the front door'

Tsygankov has opened the door to a move but says he will only leave ‘through the front door’

Mikel Arteta is reportedly already 'in love' with the Ukrainian forward and is keen to bring him to north London

Mikel Arteta is reportedly already ‘in love’ with the Ukrainian forward and is keen to bring him to north London

At 26, Tsygankov is only a year or two away from the prime of his career, and would oddly become one of the senior heads in the Arsenal dressing-room, should a concrete offer emerge.

As such, any fee in the region of £25m would prove a very good one. Debate will point to not having been tested in the Champions League, but look at Leandro Trossard and the absolute bargain he has been. 

While Tsygankov has not had quite the trajectory that Football Manager players over the last five years might have anticipated, the Ukraine star is now fast approaching that maximum potential. 

His pace, agility, dribbling and above all his sheer intent to get forward and cause problems mean that a move to a club looking to progress deep into the Champions League is now a matter of when rather than if.



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