Míchel cannot hide the impressive reality that he is building with the Gironasolo leader of LaLiga. His genetics ask him to be cautious, but the numbers of the Catalan team are indisputable. “Our league is not Real Madrid, Barça or Atlético de Madrid, although I do dream of being in the rest’s league, like Real Sociedad, Villarreal, Sevilla, Athletic…who are there fighting above. We have 31 points and salvation is very close, now we have to look one step further,” said the Madrid coach after his tenth win in twelve games against Osasuna to sign off on a spectacular start that makes him leader.
Girona, the Spanish ‘Leicester’
There is an entire League ahead, but Girona’s trajectory invites us to compare it with unexpected champions such as English Leicester, which was proclaimed Premier champion for the first time in its history in 2016. At this point in the season, Claudio Ranieri’s men had records worse than those of Montilivi, that last year in this same phase of the championship they occupied 17th place, tied at 10 points with Sevilla, which was second to last. Against Osasuna, the revelation of last year, the rojiblancos managed to turn the game around in just ten minutes for an impressive 2-4.
The entry of Viktor Tsygankov, Ukrainian international striker who scored 2-3. His compatriot and teammate, Artem Dovbyk scored the equalizer. Both, figures of Girona that has no limit and two market opportunities signed by Quique Cárcel, head of the sports area of the Catalan club, recently renewed until 2027.
Dovbyk is the top scorer, with six goals, while Tsygankov has two goals in the team with the most firepower in the League, which has 29 in its favor and 15 against. The first became a new red and white footballer in August. He signed until 2028 and Girona bought 50% of the rights to SC Dnipro-1 in his country for an amount of seven million euros.
Strategic investments at an affordable price
Also paid 1.75 million to Danish Midtjylland, a team from which Dovbyk returned to his country and which saved 30% of a future sale. This 1.89 meter point was the top scorer of the last two editions of a Ukrainian league marked by the Russian invasion and that has lost talented players like this forward. He has done so, furthermore, at prices below his market value.
A similar situation was experienced with Tsygankov, who acted as a playmaker or winger for Dynamo kyiv, his training team and with which he scored close to a hundred goals. The one with Girona is his first international experience, although he is a fixture with his national team.
The transfer fee for this 25-year-old attacker was five million for 50% of his rights., when its market value is 22 million. An injury in October cut off his progress, but his first performances caught the attention of several European teams who sent scouts to Montilivi.
Completely adapted to Girona
The sports management headed by Cárcel has already tried to sign the winger in the past, reaching to offer ten million, but no agreement was reached. The two players have adapted perfectly to Girona, feeding each other on and off the field.
The two footballers reside with their families at the club’s training center. Colleagues who speak English, like Daley Blind, another of those who have allowed Girona to take a leap in quality, have contributed to its integration. In case of doubt, Tsygankov and Dovbyk turn to Julius, Girona’s equipment manager, also of Ukrainian origin. The Catalan club has become a reference in the eastern countryas demonstrated by the comments received on social networks.
All this translates into notable performances, especially in the case of Dovbyk, who is the one who has made the most of his minutes. He has scored more than ten goals in the League, a background superior to that of Morata or Lewandowski that places him at the European avant-garde.
In short, a performance that has forced Míchel to break away from the usual discourse of containment. “We played a real great game. I don’t see a ceiling for my players,” declared the leader of a team that, barring an unexpected skid, will play European competitions next year against teams that dispute the leadership in statistics that were previously unattainable.