Mikel Arteta sees little margin for error if Arsenal are to become champions
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Mykhaylo Mudryk’s move to Chelsea could force Arsenal into an uncomfortable position with rival clubs set to hike up their valuations of alternative targets. Gunners sporting director Edu is keen to sign a new winger before the end of the month but may not be able to do so on the cheap.
Arsenal and Chelsea are both thought to have offered an initial £62million for Mudryk, with add-ons taking the total package up to £89m. However, the structure of the Blues’ proposal appealed more to Shakhtar Donetsk and the transfer was swiftly completed once agreements were reached.
The Gunners had put in months of groundwork to snap up manager Mikel Arteta’s top wide target but missed out over a reluctance to pay over the odds in the transfer market. Edu is regarded as a shrewd operator and Arsenal hope that the approach will help them in the long run.
Mudryk’s big-money move to Stamford Bridge will have hurt those in north London, and they could be set to pay another price with teams set to use the Ukrainian’s eye-popping price-tag as a yardstick with which to judge their own assets.
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Arsenal have held a long-standing interest in Raphinha, but according to CBS Sports, Barcelona now expect a fee that surpasses that paid for Mudryk given that the Brazilian comes with significantly more first-team experience.
Another alternative target in Moussa Diaby is thought to be on the Gunners’ radar but Bayer Leverkusen quoted teams a whopping £89m during the summer, and in the wake of Mudryk’s move for the same price, the Bundesliga side’s demands are unlikely to change.
Mudryk’s own hefty fee was partly due to Shakhtar using two other high-profile Premier League moves – Jack Grealish to Manchester City for £100m and Antony to Manchester United for £84m – as a reference point by which to judge a player who club chief Darijo Srna believes to be up there with the best wingers on the planet.
Arsenal are currently eight points clear at the top of the Premier League but there remains a lingering feeling that squad depth concerns may get the better of them over the second half of the campaign. Shakhtar CEO Sergei Palkin has suggested that the Gunners didn’t help themselves by contacting Mudryk before requesting permission from the club.
“Arsenal contacted the player almost one and a half months before they contacted us,” he told The Athletic. “Can you imagine, for example, to have Mikel Arteta, Oleksandr Zinchenko and the sporting director calling you, to have Arsenal calling you almost every day, every two days, every three days? You can want or not want the move but you follow this kind of reception and contacts.
“If you talk about Chelsea, they called me at the end of December and asked if they can contact Mudryk because they are interested in him and want to talk with him. I said, ‘No problem, you can contact him’. The first time they contacted him was around the end of December or the start of January.”
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