A year ago, the personnel situation at Shakhtar could be described in one word – “catastrophic”. The long-term stake on legionnaires eventually came back to haunt the Pitmen after the start of the full-scale phase of the Russian-Ukrainian war, when almost all foreigners, with the exception of Lassina Traore, who was recovering from a serious injury at that time, decided to leave Ukraine.
As a result, last summer Shakhtar had to urgently look for a huge number of newcomers, and with an eye on the first team, which literally gaped holes. The attacking line suffered the most, where, as usual, much (if not all) was given to the Brazilians.
Shakhtar decided to go, perhaps, the most logical and least risky way – to try to return to Ukraine either their former players or ex-players of other UPL clubs who managed to move to Europe at one time or another, but did not receive unconditional success there and recognition. One of the “returnees” turned out to be left winger Ivan Petryak, who was previously on a contract at Shakhtar from 2016 to 2019, but did not achieve success on his first entry into the Donetsk team, including due to competition with foreign players .
On August 22, 2022, Shakhtar officially announced the signing of a 4-year labor agreement with Petryak, for which his former club MOL Fehervar was paid 1.5 million euros – 300 thousand euros more than the Pitmen received from the sale of the winger to a club from the city of Szekesfehervar, which took place three years earlier.
However, at the end of the season, we can safely state that the bet on Petryak did not work, and the winger failed for the second time in his career in the Donetsk team…
The transfer of Petryak was initially extremely risky, if not a very dubious undertaking on the part of the Shakhtar management. The fact is that Ivan’s preferred position on the field is a left winger, and there, as of the end of August last year, the Pitmen had not the slightest problem. On the contrary, it was Shakhtar’s left flank where the undisputed leader of the team, Mykhailo Mudryk, acted, whom the Donetsk team had no intention of selling on the eve of the start in the Champions League, and thanks to this, six months later they were able to sell their No. 1 star in Chelsea for 70+ 30 million euros.
On the right, where Petryak can also play if needed, Shakhtar managed to close the position quite well by signing Oleksandr Zubkov from Ferencváros and Marjan Shved from Mechelen. And in January, the Pitmen also completed the transfer of young Georgian full-back Giorgi Gocholeishvili, who can play a little higher without any problems, being very useful in attacking work on the right touchline.
It turns out that initially Shakhtar took Petryak for the sake of reinsurance – what if something does not work out for Mudrik, or Mikhail gets injured and will be out for a long time in the first part of the season. And this was precisely the main miscalculation of the Pitmen’s selection and management…
To understand the validity of the last thesis, it is enough to simply analyze the entire previous career of 29-year-old Petryak. Before his first coming to Shakhtar, Ivan played for Zorya, where for several years he did not stand out in anything special, being an ordinary rotation player, without any claims to leadership. Everything changed in the 2015/16 season, when Yuriy Vernidub began to provide Petryak with much more playing practice, and from the very first minutes of matches. The role of a football player in the starting lineup gave confidence to the winger, and he began to generously thank the mentor for the trust with effective actions.
Already in the summer of 2016, Petryak’s successful performances for Zorya attracted the attention of Shakhtar, who arranged for a full transfer of the winger for an undisclosed amount, but preferred to leave Ivan in the Luhansk team for one season. And not in vain: Petryak flourished even more, becoming the true leader of Zorya’s attacks, after which his return to Shakhtar gave hope, first of all to the player himself, for much more trust from the head coach.
However, the Pitmen’s mentor at the time, Paulo Fonseca, continued to bend the line in the personnel strategy, according to which the main stake in the attack was placed on legionnaires, and the Ukrainians were, so to speak, “on the dancers”.
Once in the status of a rotation player, Petryak lost significantly, which most directly affected his performance statistics. After 12 effective actions for Zorya in the 2016/17 season, Ivan in the next season in the Shakhtar shirt scored only 1 goal scored in 14 matches, after which the club predictably thought about the advisability of the winger’s further stay in the first team .
In the summer of 2018, Shakhtar loaned Petryak to Ferencváros for a year, where Ivan managed to convince the mentor of his worth, quickly become one of the key players, and at the same time return to success on the field, which was confirmed by 17 effective actions in 28 matches of the Hungarian Championship. This was followed by a full-fledged transfer of Petryak to MOL Fehervar for 1.2 million euros, where the Ukrainian also consistently entered the field, mainly from the first minutes, and at the same time scored and gave assists.
Having found himself at Shakhtar for the second time, Petryak again had to find himself outside the starting top 11. Ivan could not win the competition from Mudrik due to a number of factors, one of which was image. It was important for the Pitmen that it was Mudryk, and not someone else, who appeared on the pitch in the team’s key matches from the first minutes, which would allow increasing the capitalization of this player, and in this regard, Shakhtar acted very competently and professionally.
But with Petryak, Shakhtar still made a mistake. Perhaps, the Pitmen’s camp initially expected that Mudrik would be sold in January, and then Ivan would become a key figure on the left flank of the team’s attack already in the second part of the season, but here, as often happens in football, fate had its own plans…
First of all, before leaving for the winter break, they managed to declare themselves at the top of their voices at Shakhtar to Kryskiv, whom Igor Jovicevich did not initially see in the team, but with his work in training, Dmytro managed to convince the Croatian specialist to give him a chance, and the midfielder took advantage of this opportunity brilliantly . But with Petryak, at the most important moment, a failure happened – the winger received an injury, due to which he appeared on the field extremely sporadically in the spring, and the team continues to train outside the main group even now.
As a result, in the 2022/23 season, Petryak played 22 matches for Shakhtar in all competitions, in which he scored only 1 goal and 1 assist. In total, in these matches, the winger spent 644 minutes, that is, on average, he appeared on the field in one match for only 29 minutes, which is less than a third of the regular time of the match …
Getty Images/Global Images Ukraine. Ivan Petryak (left)
The main question for Shakhtar now is what to do with Petryak in the near future? To understand this, the Pitmen’s management first needs to answer another burning question – will Ivan be counted as a starting XI player in the future? If not, then it hardly makes sense to keep the 29-year-old football player in the squad for the sake of being able to release him for half an hour in a conditional match against Metalist 1925 or Minai. To do this, Shakhtar needs to have young and promising players in the roster, who will be motivated by such appearances for the first team to develop further, and not be disappointed in their lack of demand at the base.
Be that as it may, it was almost impossible for Shakhtar to do without personnel mistakes in the summer of last year in such a non-specific transfer window. Although, in the situation with Petryak, as we have already found out above, too much pointed to potential risks, and, there is a feeling, the Pitmen’s management for some reason decided to ignore a number of arguments when making the final decision on the transfer. Someone will say: not too serious a “flight”, only for 1.5 million euros, they say, after the cases with Neri Castillo or Bernard, such an amount is mere crumbs. However, in the current financial situation, about which Sergey Palkin, the general director of the club, does not get tired of talking about in almost all serious Western media, every penny or, if you wish, every euro cent should be in the account …
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