Agent traveled to ‘war zone’ to try to sign Andriy Yarmolenko for Stoke City

It would have been one of the most daring transfers in Stoke City history – and it took going to a war zone to be on the verge of success.

In 2015, Stoke was on the track for Dynamo Kiev and Ukrainian winger Andriy Yarmolenko.

Ultimately, they could convince the player to come to the Premier League but not to his club, even though the Potters have stuck to his release clause of around £ 15million.

Agent Gary Mellor told an incredible story for Sentinel’s Delilah podcast in 2017.

“Yarmolenko, for some reason contacted us (Beswicks) and we were facing some pretty significant competition including Paul Pogba’s agent and a few others,” he said.

“The Hanley guys were going to Kiev and trying to get a warrant from Andriy Yarmolenko, that was something else.

“But we had seen him play for Ukraine against the United States and he looked like he had everything, a phenomenal player. Everyone has seen it, but when you watch it live it looks special.

“The first time I got out, Ukraine was at war with Russia, really – a plane had just been shot down and I was sitting on an empty British Airways plane from Heathrow to Kiev.”

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Mellor continued: “I actually had just done the Jack Butland loan deal in Leeds before I got on board, I felt really happy so I looked around wondering why no one else was. there and I thought I was making a big mistake.

“I managed to come back and my wife probably never forgave me … but I met him, luckily he liked me and gave us a warrant.

“Then it was easy to say to Stoke, ‘What about Yarmolenko? “

“Truth be told, when I first sat down with him his thoughts were probably more like Manchester United than Stoke City or even Tottenham Hotspur. But we started talking about the football club, I went back, I saw him again, I talked about Stoke City, he started to take an interest, Stoke made a good offer for him – an offer that would have had to trigger its exit.

“Without going into too much detail, I think the club owner thought that for Dynamo Kiev to sell their best player to Stoke City would have been embarrassing on the world stage.

Would Yarmolenko have been a success at Stoke? Give your opinion in the comments section

“If they were going to sell him, it would only be to someone like Chelsea or Manchester City.

“Life in Ukraine is very different from life in Stoke. When Steven Nzonzi leaves Stoke City he doesn’t have a lot of problems, but leaving Ukraine when you come from there and have family is another matter. I think it didn’t work for these reasons. “

And there is no doubt that Yarmolenko, who ultimately ended up at West Ham via Borussia Dortmund, would have become a big Boothen End favorite.

Mellor said: “He 100% thought Stoke was interesting and I would have loved to see him in a red and white shirt.”

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