Artem Dovbyk: Girona’s Ukrainian striker on course to win the Pichichi in his first La Liga season

In his first season in one of Europe’s top five leagues, the 26-year-old is the top scorer of Spain’s top division, two goals ahead of Alexander Sorloth and Jude Bellingham.

With just five matchdays remaining in the 2023-24 La Liga season, Artem Dovbyk is on course to win the Pichichi Trophy, the prize given out at the end of each campaign to the competition’s top goalscorer. Never before has a Girona player or a Ukrainian won it, but the 26-year-old could change that as he currently leads the standings with 19 goals, two more than Alexander Sorloth and Jude Bellingham, his closest challengers.

Like Robert Lewandowski did last term, Dovbyk is hoping to lift the Pichichi Trophy in his debut season in La Liga. In fact, this is his first ever campaign in one of Europe’s top five leagues, having only previously played in Moldova, Denmark and his native Ukraine, and he has absolutely demonstrated that he belongs. Next term, he should be able to showcase his talents to the rest of Europe in the Champions League, as his goals have helped steer Girona to the brink of a maiden Champions League qualification.

At the Estadi Montilivi, everyone is delighted with what Dovbyk has been able to do this season. There was some concern among the fans in the summer after striker Taty Castellanos departed following a 13-goal season. However, Dovbyk was brought in from SC Dnipro-1 as the club’s most expensive signing ever and he hit the ground running, scoring in a 1-1 draw away at Real Sociedad in Matchday 1.

Assisting his first goal for the club was fellow Ukrainian Viktor Tsyhankov. The winger had spoken highly of Girona’s project to his international teammate when Dovbyk was considering a move, before he helped the striker to settle in during pre-season. It also helped Dovbyk’s adaptation that one of the club’s kitmen is Ukrainian.

Much more than a centre-forward 

Early in the season, Michel expressed his delight at the summer signing’s ability to put the ball in the back of the net. The coach explained: “Dovbyk has that knack of scoring goals. He is very good and he is very happy in Girona and with the team. He has a friend, in Viktor Tsyhankov, who has made his arrival at the club go well. He is a differential player.”

However, the Girona coach also wanted the forward to become more involved in the team’s overall play. Michel doesn’t want his teams to be made up of a block of 10 players and then an isolated striker at the tip.

Learning the Girona system took Dovbyk some time, as it would for any newcomer, but the 26-year-old displayed a willingness to learn and has become a more integral part of the team’s overall build-up play. By contributing five assists in addition to his 19 goals, the Girona frontman also stands top of the La Liga rankings for combined goals and assists. His total of 24 is the same as Barcelona’s Robert Lewandowski.

Preparing for Euro 2024 and the Champions League

Whether he goes on to win the Pichichi Trophy or not, Dovbyk will be going to Euro 2024 with Ukraine in the summer. He featured in every one of his national team’s qualification matches, and even scored a crucial 88th minute winner against Bosnia and Herzegovina in the playoff semi-final.

Assuming Girona hold on to their place in the top four, something they could mathematically confirm in Matchday 34, Dovbyk and his Girona teammates can also look ahead to Champions League football next season. It’ll be the Catalan club’s first ever participation in European football and they’d be entering that elite competition with one of Europe’s most clinical strikers, who has a contract with the club until 2028.

When he arrived at the club, Dovbyk stated that he didn’t want to set himself any specific target for number of goals. But, his tally of 19 currently has him as the top scorer in La Liga. If he keeps that up over the remaining matchdays, he’ll win a historic Pichichi Trophy.

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The post Artem Dovbyk: Girona’s Ukrainian striker on course to win the Pichichi in his first La Liga season appeared first on Football España.

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