Finding His Feet in the Premier League
Mykhailo Mudryk’s Chelsea journey has been anything but plain sailing. Despite the club outmaneuvering Arsenal for his signature, the Ukrainian’s record stands at eight starts, 813 minutes, zero goals, and a mere two assists. For a young player once touted as one of the sport’s brightest prospects, these numbers certainly don’t do justice.
Chelsea’s investment was steep. They paid Shakhtar Donetsk an initial €70million (£61.6m, $75.5m) amidst heightened competition from Arsenal. The Blues saw potential in him and expected a quicker transition. However, the complexities surrounding his transfer and subsequent performance might warrant a more compassionate lens.
Adjusting to the Premier League Pace
The timing of Mudryk’s transfer, the winter break in Ukraine, and the urgency of Chelsea’s situation threw him into the deep end. Starting off the bench just six days post his unveiling at Stamford Bridge, the young Ukrainian had huge boots to fill.
🎙️ 𝗧𝗛𝗘 𝗔𝗧𝗛𝗟𝗘𝗧𝗜𝗖 𝗙𝗢𝗢𝗧𝗕𝗔𝗟𝗟 𝗣𝗢𝗗𝗖𝗔𝗦𝗧
— The Athletic | Football (@TheAthleticFC) September 7, 2023
The unsettled atmosphere at Chelsea – a series of defeats, frequent changes in starting XI, and the ever-revolving managerial door – didn’t help. Amidst this chaos, a young player, away from home, struggling with a language barrier and personal concerns back in Ukraine, was expected to shine. The weight on his shoulders was palpable.
Glimpse into Mudryk’s Chelsea Life
According to sources close to Chelsea and the player, speaking with The Athletic, Mudryk’s commitment is unquestionable. His extra sessions in the gym and dedication on and off the pitch signify his hunger to make it big.
However, his gym routines, reminiscent of his Shakhtar days, raised eyebrows. Chelsea officials are reportedly concerned about his excessive gym work. Off the pitch, video games are his escape, allowing him to connect with friends worldwide, especially those back in Ukraine.
Mudryk’s performance is often overshadowed by his hefty transfer fee, frequently quoted as £88million (€100m) due to potential add-ons. But it’s essential to break down this number – Shakhtar’s full payment is contingent on Chelsea winning the Premier League and Champions League multiple times, a distant scenario currently.
Given that he had only 65 senior appearances before his Chelsea move, the expectation to shine immediately seems premature.
Teammates’ Belief and the Path Forward
Chelsea’s vice-captain, Ben Chilwell, sees “endless bags of potential” in Mudryk. His speed, recognised even by teammates like Wesley Fofana, is a significant asset. However, this speed needs space – something Chelsea’s opponents frequently deny.
Last season, Frank Lampard pointed out the need for improving Mudryk’s defensive game. Mauricio Pochettino, Chelsea’s current head coach, stresses the mental and physical strengthening of Mudryk. The coach is focused on ensuring the Ukrainian feels “comfortable” and “strong” in his body.
As the curtains gradually rise on this Premier League season, the time is ripe for Mudryk to display his worth. His own admission – that he has showcased only 20% of his capabilities – suggests there’s much more to come. As he continues to navigate the Premier League’s rigours, patience, both from him and the supporters, will be crucial.