Arsenal are in talks with Shakhtar Donetsk over a deal for their forward Mykhailo Mudryk; one source has told Sky Sports News there is cautious optimism a deal can be reached; Mudryk watched the Gunners' win over West Ham on Boxing Day on TV
Thursday 29 December 2022 10:39, UK
Arsenal remain in talks with Shakhtar Donetsk over the signing of forward Mykhailo Mudryk, who is being valued at £85m.
The Gunners, who reportedly had an opening offer worth around £55m including add-ons rejected, are yet to meet the demands of the Ukrainian club, with the payment structure also being discussed.
Shakhtar CEO Sergei Palkin confirmed the club had received offers for the 21-year-old, including from Arsenal, but they were "not the ones we would like to see" for a deal to be done.
Sources close to the deal have explained to Sky Sports News that Shakhtar view Mudryk, who has played just eight times for his country and is yet to score a goal in international football, as one of the top five wingers in the world.
Shakhtar believe he is better than Antony at Manchester United, who cost £86m from Ajax in the summer, and are using that as their benchmark in negotiations.
"Negotiations are continuing," Palkin said on Thursday. "We receive offers, but they are not the ones we would like to see on our table.
"Now, literally in five minutes, I will have a phone conversation with Arsenal. We are open to negotiations, ready to exchange ideas and figures. If we will agree, then let it be so. If we will not, then let it be another time."
Another source had previously told Sky Sports News there is cautious optimism a deal can get done with Arsenal thought to be encouraged by the player's desire to join.
Mudryk was watching Arsenal's game against West Ham on Boxing Day on TV and posted a picture on Instagram.
Arsenal wanted to strengthen forward line in the summer and went in for former Leeds winger Raphinha, who ended up joining Barcelona in a £55m deal.
The potential signing of Mudryk is seen as an ideal purchase for Arsenal - the Ukraine international is someone the Gunners have scouted for a while.
Mudryk is not, however, seen as a direct replacement for Gabriel Jesus, who is expected back before the end of the season.
The 21-year-old has scored 10 goals this season for Shakhtar - including three in the Champions League group stages.
At the start of last season he was an unknown outside of Ukraine with a transfer value of under £1m. Now he is one of the most coveted young players in Europe. Following an explosive rise, Mykhailo Mudryk looks destined for big things.
The 21-year-old, who showcased his thrilling speed and one-on-one ability in the Champions League group stage earlier this season, has been described by Darijo Srna, Shakhtar Donetsk's director of football, as "the best player in Europe in his position" after Kylian Mbappe and Vinicius Junior.
There may be a hint of exaggeration to that statement but Srna is not the only one to hold Mudryk in high regard. His list of suitors is a long one and Premier League leaders Arsenal sit at the top of it.
Sky Sports' Ben Grounds:
"Mudryk is a special talent. Anyone who has seen him play will realise the type of player he is. Direct and menacing with the ball at his feet, Shakhtar's courageous attempt at navigating their way through the Champions League group stages ultimately fell short but their standout performer was Mudryk.
"He has played predominantly on the left-hand side for Shakhtar so it will be interesting to see if Mikel Arteta deploys him in the same position or as a No 10.
"Gabriel Martinelli has been performing so well on the left while Eddie Nketiah is proving a capable understudy to Gabriel Jesus through the middle.
"As with Liverpool's pursuit of Cody Gakpo, this transfer provides Arsenal with variety to their attack. Their opportunity to be this close to a first league title since 2004 may not come around for another four or five years.
"Both Martinelli and Nketiah will be pushed by Mudryk's imminent arrival.
"Arsenal wouldn't have moved for Mudryk without having done their due diligence on the player and how he fits into the style Arteta wants to play, but with Arsenal in such a strong position in the Premier League, it would not be a surprise if this was the end of their January transfer business.
"The Arsenal board are reacting to the team's strong position and the early move for Mudryk shows they mean business."