THE "FOR SALE" signs hanging over the pick of Dynamo Kiev's squad have been hurriedly hauled down now that the Ukrainians have landed a lucrative European Cup quarter-final against Real Madrid.
The surprise package of last season's Champions' League after their return from a Uefa ban imposed for trying to bribe a referee in 1995, had run the risk of being reduced to a nursery for rich Western outfits. Top of the shopping list was 22-year-old Andriy Shevchenko, who first hit the headlines with a hat-trick in Dynamo's 4-0 trouncing of Barcelona at Nou Camp last year.
When the Ukrainians made a shaky start to this season's Champions' League campaign, Shevchenko and his strike partner Serhiy Rebrov were widely assumed to be Italy-bound by the new year. But, while the veteran full- back Oleh Luzhny has been sold to Benfica and Olexander Holovko has been on trial at Liverpool, the rest of the squad will now be staying in Kiev to face the European champions in March.
"The fact that we qualified for the quarter-finals means that none of our top players, including Shevchenko and Rebrov, will be sold to Western clubs before the end of the season," said a club spokesman, Alexei Semenenko. "Only veterans, like Luzhny and Holovko, who have done a lot of good for the club, have been given permission to move abroad. Other than that, our team will stay intact."
The Ukrainians, who make no secret of being unable to compete with Western clubs for wages, also sold their 30-year-old captain, Yuri Kalitvintsev, to Turkey's Trabzonspor last month. But the club president, Hryhory Surkis, has maintained that Dynamo plan to keep their two key strikers, Shevchenko and Rebrov, and hopes the veteran former Soviet coach Valery Lobanovsky can rebuild another, highly disciplined, fast-breaking unit behind them.
"They are not for sale," Surkis said recently, after persistent rumours of bids from Italian and Spanish clubs. Shevchenko has said he is happy - for now - to stay in Kiev drawing a salary estimated by club officials at around pounds 60,000 per year, a fortune by Ukrainian standards but a pittance for a world-class player.Reuse content