Chelsea completed the signing of Mykhailo Mudryk this week, poaching the Ukrainian sensation from under the noses of their arch-rivals Arsenal. Valued at £88.7 million, the Blues are paying out a record sum for a Shakhtar Donetsk player – with Graham Potter opting to sign a long-term deal with the 22-year-old.
Mykhailo Mudryk could make his debut tomorrow, with Chelsea heading to Anfield to take on Liverpool in the Premier League.
Here’s all you need to know about the sensational transfer signing made by Chelsea this week.
Mykhailo Mudryk’s background
Mykhailo Mudryk hails from the Ukrainian city of Krasnograd, spending his formative years at the local club Metalist Kharkiv. He joined Shakhtar Donetsk at the age of 15 and was given his first-team debut at the age of 17.
While he was kept as a reserve player for much of the past five years, Mudryk got a taste of club-level football with various opportunities offered to him, mainly at other clubs where he was sent on loan.
The breakthrough came in 2021 when Roberto De Zerbi took over the management at Shakhtar Donetsk.
Mykhailo Mudryk became a regular inclusion for the team in their UEFA Champions League games, with his talents on full display against the likes of Real Madrid and Inter Milan that year. With his stellar performance that year, he was named the Shakhtar Donetsk Player of the Year for 2021.
Mykhailo Mudryk would go on to win Ukraine’s Footballer of the Year award in 2022, attracting the attention of Premier League clubs.
How Chelsea beat Arsenal to sign the star
Arsenal’s pursuit of Mykhailo Mudryk started several weeks ago, with the Premier League leaders keen to bolster their squad with young talent. But negotiations were at a stalemate in recent weeks, with the Gunners unwilling to accept Shakhtar Donetsk’s high price for the 22-year-old.
Arsenal made three unsuccessful attempts at signing the star, but Mykhailo Mudryk was confident of a move to the Emirates Stadium in January.
Regular calls and assurances from Arsenal’s management led the Ukrainian winger to post messages on social media regarding his move to Arsenal. Arsenal and Shakhtar Donetsk almost reached an agreement last week, with only minor differences remaining to be sorted out between the two sides.
Chelsea were keeping an eye open to sign the winger, and their recent poor form in the Premier League only strengthened their decision to bring young players into their team.
Joao Felix’s straight red card on debut massively upset Chelsea’s plans to turn around their season, and the Blues decided that they would open up their purse strings for a long-term contract with the Ukrainian star. The Blues agreed to almost all the terms set by Shakhtar Donetsk, including a $25 million donation to the Ukrainian war effort.
Chelsea’s speed and commitment in sealing the deal once they made up their minds were evident even in Joao Felix’s case, but they truly have pulled off a sensational transfer by poaching Mykhailo Mudryk from Arsenal.
Long-term contracts the new rule at Stamford Bridge
Todd Boehly has spent over £400 million on transfer deals since taking control at Stamford Bridge last year with the contracts featuring the likes of Wesley Fofana, Raheem Sterling, and Kalidou Koulibaly.
A clear trend in these signings is the length of these contracts, as four of Chelsea’s recent signings will stay at the club for four years with Wesley Fofana expected to stay at the club till 2028.
With the signing of an eight-year contract with Mykhailo Mudryk, it is clear that Chelsea are now opting to sign long-term deals with youngsters instead of being active in the transfer market every season. The main reason for this is the need to stay within the Financial Fair Play Rules coming into full force soon.
While the strategy has the advantage of spreading costs for the club over a longer time, it could backfire on the Blues if the young players underperform in the coming years. The long-term contracts also ensure that Chelsea can prevent other clubs from poaching their players with long-term contracts making it prohibitively expensive.
With costs increasing across the board for Premier League clubs while incomes remain stagnant, Chelsea’s strategy would serve as a case study for other clubs in successfully navigating the transfer market.
The Blues require an urgent course correction this month, as they face the threat of slipping to the bottom half of the table.
With the likes of Raheem Sterling, Wesley Fofana and Edouard Mendy remaining out of consideration for the month, Mykhailo Mudryk is expected to debut right away for Chelsea tomorrow at Anfield.
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