MYKHAILO MUDRYK has already been dubbed the “Ukrainian Neymar” and now Arsenal are confident of bringing his magic to the Emirates.
A bid of up to £52.5million has been lodged with Shakhtar Donetsk for the 21-year-old winger who has made it clear that he is more than ready to make the move to North London.
But Shakhtar are in no rush to part company, with sporting director Dario Srna claiming: “In this position on the left, Mudryk is the third best youngster in the world behind Mbappe and Vinicius Junior.”
And while Mudryk’s scoring record might not be on the same level as Mbappe’s, his close control, dribbling skills and devastating change of pace are right up there with the French superstar.
No wonder his transfer value has already more than doubled since Everton had a £26million bid rejected on deadline day last summer.
Yet were it not for the outbreak of war in his country, Mudryk’s astonishing progress might not have been half as rapid.
For it was only when Shakhtar’s legion of foreign based players – and particularly their Brazilian attacking players – quit the country that the opportunity opened for Mudryk to play on a regular basis.
Prior to that he had been loaned out to Ukrainian rivals Arsenal Kyiv and then Desna Chernihiv to allow him to gain more first team experience.
And it was only when Shakhtar appointed Roberto De Zerbi as their boss in 2021 that they really started to appreciate what a major talent they had on their hands.
De Zerbi, whose Brighton team host Arsenal just hours before the transfer window opens on New Year’s Day, announced: “If I don’t take Mykhailo to a higher level, I will consider it a personal defeat.”
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And that was exactly what he did as the flying right footer fired Shakhtar to the top of the Ukrainian League and into the Champions League, where he scored in both of his team’s 1-1 draws with Celtic.
Called up by the senior Ukrainian team for the first time in April, he has already won eight international caps and has scored ten goals in 19 games for Shkatar this season as well as receiving six yellow cards and a red.
And in November he made it clear where he saw his future when he was interviewed on YouTube by Olkesandr Zinchenko’s wife Vlada and told her that the team that most interests him is Arsenal.