Giorgi Sudakov has the potential to play for Barcelona or Manchester City, says Shakhtar Donetsk youth coach Fernando Valente, as the latter revealed the former is sheltering in a bunker amid the ongoing Ukraine-Russia crisis.
Russian Federation President Vladimir Putin ordered the invasion of their neighbouring Eastern European country last month, sparking the largest theatre of conflict in Europe since WWII, necessitating the suspension of all professional leagues within Ukraine.
Taking to social media, Valente paid tribute to teenager Sudakov, who made his senior breakthrough last term and is a thrice-capped Ukraine international, with the coach stating that his "heart is broken" that he and the rest of the country is caught up in a "senseless war".
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What has been said?
"Sudakov was the most talented player I ever coached,” Valente wrote. “A Ukrainian international, who recently renewed his contract with Shakhtar until 2026; a wonderful human being with a little girl on the way with his wife Lisa…
"They had dreams to fulfill, dreams that have been snatched away by a bunker for a senseless war. I pray for this couple and the for all the young players and friends that I made in Ukraine and who made me happy for the two years I was there. My heart is broken.”
Valente further hailed his player to Portuguese agency Agnecia Lusa, adding: “Sudakov is a lad with enormous potential, he could even play for Barcelona or Manchester City. He was the best player I coached and we have a strong relationship."
The bigger picture
Sudakov remains one of many Ukraine stars who remain in their home country, either trapped or fighting the Russian invasion.
Several others have continued to play abroad with their clubs, such as West Ham star Andriy Yarmolenko, who broke down in tears after scoring against Aston Villa at the weekend.
Russia, meanwhile, remain banned from club and international competition within Europe as part of a sweeping set of sporting sanctions issued against the nation.