Sunderland look set to complete the signing of Nazariy Rusyn on a four-year deal, if reports are to be believed. The signing of the Ukrainian forward has been rumoured since agreeing a fee last week with his club, but for the move to advance we were required to acquire a work permit for Rusyn before signing the deal off in time for the deadline closing.
But who is he, and why have Sunderland been so persistent in signing him?
So what kind of a player is Rusyn and what can we expect from the former Zorya Lugansk attacker?
Firstly, it should be made clear that Rusyn is not a target man - he’s a more dynamic attacking player that can operate on either wing or as a traditional No 9. He’s more intricate and relies on his movement and ball carrying to beat defenders rather than his sheer physicality. He’s not a like for like replacement for Ross Stewart and that’s okay, he provides a different approach to the striker role.
The graphic above showcases Rusyn’s statistics from last season, the two data points that immediately catch the eye are his dribbles per 90’ and his touches within the opposition box per 90. Both rank in the top 5% for forwards within the 2nd/3rd & 4th tier of Ukrainian football.
His shots per 90’ also ranks within the top 10% of players demonstrating that Rusyn is able to carry the ball well in the final third, but is also happy to pull the trigger whenever he gets an opportunity to do so.
Given Sunderland’s current offensive shyness, the ability to have a player who’s not afraid of letting shots off can only be seen as a great positive moving forward.
Physically, Rusyn is not the tallest in stature at 5ft 10” therefore he’s not going to physically overpower Championship centre backs, however, his true strength comes in his dynamism and ability to use clever and creative movement to generate opportunities for himself in the final third. In terms of his shooting ability, the vast majority of Rusyn’s shots occurred inside the 18-yard box and most of his 13 goals scored last season came from shots into the bottom corners of the opposition goal. This shows he’s got a clear eye for the back of the net and demonstrates his composure when staring down the goalkeeper.
Where Rusyn excels the most is attacking into space and on the transition, something that suits Sunderland’s style of play when looking to move the ball fast and with pace. In addition to his ability to break with speed, Rusyn also attempts many progressive carries & passes to help advance the ball into the final third as quickly as possible.
Another area of Rusyn’s game that Sunderland have paid close attention to is his ability to regain possession quickly.
The below graphic showcases all of his repossessions last season, with a strong percentage coming from counter-pressing, something that Sunderland have made a key part of their skill set when switching to a more possession-based style of play this season.
On the whole, Rusyn is a dynamic forward that offers Sunderland versatility across the whole of the front line and comes into the team capable of playing multiple positions.
Yes, he’s untested in England and therefore it may take him some time to adjust to the pace of the game fitness (having suffered a pelvic injury over the last few weeks), but I have no doubt that the dynamic Ukrainian forward will prove to be a statistical hit according to the data, something which Speakman has emphasised is vital to Sunderland’s recruitment.
All data & graphics taken from: https://www.canva.com/design/DAFqxFYWiqY/view