The vigour with which Liverpool and Tottenham pursued Yevhen Konoplyanka over the past 18 months almost resulted in both clubs being issued with restraining orders, yet now the poster boy of Ukrainian football is out of contract, neither seem to care.
At various points of recent transfer windows, the pair were willing to pay eight-figure sums to lure the 25-year-old to the Premier League.
Konoplyanka’s continued resistance of their charms, it would appear, have soured relations to a point where reconciliation is no longer an option and despite both clubs still being in the market to strengthen in his position, the Reds and Lilywhites refuse to acknowledge his existence.
After retrieving their phonebook-thick dossiers on the winger from their library of scout reports, setting them on fire, loading the ashes into a rocket and firing it at the sun, Liverpool and Spurs have sent their recruitment teams back to Ukraine with the remit of watching another native wide man.
The new name topping the clubs’ shortlist is Andriy Yarmolenko, a more prolific, right-sided version of Konoplyanka who’ll cost any interested party a reported £20m.
Last season was undoubtedly the 25-year-old’s finest; he scored a career high 14 league goals in helping Dynamo Kiev to the domestic title, while he registered a further four and set up seven more en route to the Europa League quarter final.
His return in the Ukrainian Premier League means he has hit double-figures from the right flank in five successive campaigns.
Konoplyanka, by contrast, has never achieved the feat, vindicating Liverpool and Spurs’ decisions to favour his international colleague.
Both struggled for goals last term, with Mauricio Pochettino trying various forward line combinations in order to supplement Harry Kane’s efforts in north London as Brendan Rodgers simultaneously battled in vain against injuries and substandard options in order to increase the attacking output of the Merseysiders.
The duo’s former favourite Ukrainian may be a free agent, but he wouldn’t increase either team’s goal threat, whereas Yarmolenko’s acquisition certainly would, or so the stats indicate.
A price of 1/2 says any English Premier League outfit will employ the Dynamo Kiev ace by the time the summer transfer window shuts.