It has been a slow start to the transfer window. Liverpool moved early to sign Cody Gakpo, but as yet, none of the other top six teams have made a first team signing. The player a lot of them want is Mykhailo Mudryk. The Shakhtar Donetsk attacker has been one of the big stories in European football, as he has starred for the Ukrainian side in the Champions League. Arsenal are considered the frontrunners for his signature, with the player seemingly pushing for a move to the Emirates Stadium on his social media. Chelsea and Newcastle United have also been linked with the 22-year-old.
In the Champions League, Mudryk has been excellent and looked at home at that level. During the group stage, he contributed three goals and two assists, as Shakhtar finished in third place. It wasn’t enough to reach the next stage, but they did manage to qualify for the Europa League. There will be European football for the Ukrainian club in 2023 and their talented left winger is one of the key reasons for that.
There was an awareness of Mudryk prior to this season. However, it was his starring role and consistency of performance in the Champions League that has accelerated the chase for him. Although Shakhtar claim that they don’t need the money, there is a belief that he will be available for a good price. This is due to the ongoing war in Ukraine. Clubs won’t want to take advantage of the Ukrainian club, but they will sense an opportunity to get a world class talent for a decent fee.
Despite the limited data available from the Ukrainian league, his Champions League data shows the type of player he is. Mudryk averaged 1.57 shots and 2.09 shot creating actions per ninety minutes. This underlines that he is an active participant in the final third. Further to this, he averaged 0.19 non-penalty expected goals (npxG) and 0.12 expected assisted goals (xAG) per ninety minutes. This places him in the 93rd and 69th percentiles respectively.
There will be concerns about his defensive contribution as he ranks in the bottom 5% among midfielders for tackles, interceptions, blocks and aerial duels. This could be a result of the role he played for Shakhtar, with him often being left in advanced positions to lead the counter attack. If he does join Arsenal, he will be expected to work hard off the ball. At the age of 22, he has plenty of time to develop this side to his game.
One of his biggest strengths is his ball carrying. He is comfortable dribbling with the ball for long distances, with a raw pace that can leave opposition defenders for dust. His goal against Celtic in the Champions League was an example of his threat in transition.
Arsenal need more strength in depth if they are to win the Premier League title. They didn’t have many options on the bench during the week as they dropped points at home to Newcastle. If they had a player like Mudryk, maybe they would have been able to get a winning goal. The starting eleven at the Emirates Stadium is settled, but that can lead to complacency. If they signed the Ukrainian, it would immediately put pressure on those in the team.
Chelsea have spent a lot of money already under their new ownership. It would be strange if they released large funds to sign Mudryk, as they already have a lot of attackers in the squad. It feels a more natural fit at Arsenal.
If Mudryk does come to the Premier League this month, it will be an exciting addition to the division. He has the potential to be a world class attacker.