Maksym Koval 18 Goalkeeper Dynamo Kyiv
There is a danger with goalkeepers that they have to fall into an established set of physical stereotypes to be regarded as a prospect. They must be six feet tall or over – tick. They must have an imposing frame designed to make one-on-one situations as difficult as possible – tick. At the same time they must have the reactions and speed that bely a body that in other situations could be cumbersome – tick.
Koval fits the mould but also comes with added value. To quote a cliché, he’s an excellent shot-stopper, agile and brave enough to take the risks required that great ‘keepers know need to be taken. He also has a happy knack of saving penalties, something which goes a long way to not only ingratiating yourself with your team mates but also your club’s fans. At the moment it’s no exaggeration to say that Koval only lacks the one thing the very best goalkeeper’s have to possess in order to fit the world class criteria – experience.
Koval is a real prospect; he has the skills to become the best in his position in the world. Kyiv continue to nurse his career gently, and he remains second choice to club captain Oleksandr Shovkovskiy at both domestic and international level. With a number of Europe’s top sides taking note, that vital experience will surely be gained in the coming seasons whether he stays with Kyiv or not.
“A sensation. But for a reluctance to throw him in at the deep end, Koval could already be a regular starter for club and country, despite his tender years. There are echoes here of Igor Akinfeev, another precocious 'keeper - and there's no reason to believe Koval won't eventually reach the legendary status enjoyed by his Russian counterpart” – James Appell (ITV Football)
C The mark would be higher but for a lack of appearances, expect genuinely big things