Mykhaylo Mudryk can play off both feet and is direct with his running

‘Ukrainian Neymar’ Mykhaylo Mudryk can play off either foot and is a throwback winger with his direct running… Shakhtar rate him behind only Mbappe and Vinicius Jnr and expect Arsenal to return with a second bid for the £80m-rated star

  • Arsenal were stymied in their pursuit of Ukrainian star forward Mykhailo Mudryk 
  • He was of interest to Brentford last summer before a meteoric rise in 2021-22
  • Shakhtar Donetsk legend Darijo Srna believes him to be the jewel in their crown
  • He believes only ‘Kylian Mbappe and Vinicius Jnr’ are better than him out wide
  • READ: Mikel Arteta vows to try and find a player to take Arsenal to the next level

With 134 caps for Croatia, six appearances at major tournaments and a house glistening with trophies, Shakhtar Donetsk’s sporting director Dario Srna has been around the block. A few times, actually.

He happened to be one of the finest right backs across Europe for over a decade, so fairly well-placed to critique the very best left wingers. 

After retiring in 2019, Srna is in a suit these days and believes Shakhtar’s jewel in the crown – the explosive Mykhailo Mudryk, who tore Celtic to shreds in the Champions League – is as good as it gets out wide.

Arsenal have submitted a £57million bid for Shakhtar Donestk winger Mykhaylo Mudryk

‘After Kylian Mbappe and Vinicius Junior, he’s the best player in Europe in his position,’ Srna said recently.

It is high praise and, although probably rooted in part to an early negotiation ploy to extract the highest possible fee for a player the Ukrainians will ultimately lose, is also an opinion shared inside Premier League boardrooms. Particularly at Arsenal, who have seen a bid for Mudryk rejected ahead of the January transfer window opening as they look to bolster their attacking armoury for a title charge.

Mudryk is showing an interest in Arsenal and the 21-year-old watched their win vs West Ham

The Gunners are expected to return with an improved offer packed with incentives, while Shakhtar are thought to value Mudryk, who turns 22 next week, at more than £80million – a significant outlay on a raw talent who has only made 66 professional appearances. Where this lands come the end of next month will be fascinating, with the player already admitting that he could not say no to the move. When that card is dealt, there is usually only one outcome.

The rise has happened as fast as one of his darts down the touchline – and some wondered whether it would ever come. As a youngster, there were rumblings of a difficult attitude to manage yet the rapid development under Roberto De Zerbi, before he joined Brighton in mid-September, and then a continuation under his successor has catapulted Mudryk into the inboxes of every single sporting director of clubs in the top five leagues.

Brentford had registered interest last summer but a breath-taking ascent since – 10 goals and eight assists in all competitions, that has seen the asking price double – has garnered the attention of bigger clubs. Although an inverted winger, he can play of either foot and is a bit of a throwback in the way in which his direct running can open games up.

Mudryk (left) has scored ten goals this season including three strikes in the Champions League

Celtic found that to their cost in the Champions League group stage. Mudryk scored in both draws, burning Josip Juranovic – who is no slouch – for pace and blasting above Joe Hart out in Poland, where Shakhtar’s home fixtures are hosted following the invasion.

His equaliser at Parkhead a month later, which ultimately knocked Celtic out of Europe altogether, was a product of a fearfulness of his pace. Mudryk picked up possession on halfway, driving at a backpedalling defence. Not knowing whether to engage or not, they watched him thrash into the top corner having carried possession 30 yards unopposed.

Brentford’s Aaron Hickey would show them how it’s done in between those ties, reducing Mudryk to the periphery with a display of poise and perfect positioning as Scotland beat Ukraine in the Nations League at Hampden Park.

Arsenal are keen to bring in attacking reinforcements with Gabriel Jesus out with a knee injury

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta has already expressed his desire to strengthen in January

Upon any move, there will be occasions just like that night, when Mudryk does not dazzle and that is only to be expected. But there is a wonder and a mystique to a talent they call the Ukrainian Neymar, an unscripted nature that will be sculpted on arrival at the biggest stage.

In a way, that tactical development – perhaps not dribbling with purpose quite so often, protecting the ball and playing back into midfield more – will be a shame but is a sign of the times. If Arsenal do prise him away, Mikel Arteta’s options out on the left – with Gabriel Martinelli as well – would be very enviable indeed.

Mudryk has, in the not-so-distant past, talked about moving more centrally as he grows older and pointed to how Cristiano Ronaldo converted himself into a striker. That is further down the road but Arsenal will have a player on their hands, someone who at the very least diverts attention away from others, should they agree a price that is deemed right for everybody. 

Mudryk is keen on a move to the Gunners but Shakhtar are expected to demand more for him

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