Dubai: Mykhailo Mudryk, the 22-year-old Ukrainian winger, hasn’t had the best start to his career in English football.
In the January transfer window, Chelsea and Arsenal fought for his signature, but the Blues eventually won the battle by paying Shakhtar Donetsk £89million for the youngster. Now, I bet they wish they hadn’t.
Since his big-money money move, he has struggled to make an impact and Arsenal fans have been quick to claim that their club dodged a bullet by not signing him.
During his seven appearances for Chelsea, Mudryk has only been on the winning side once.
Against England in the Euro 2024 qualifier on Sunday, it was an opportunity for him to show what he can do. However, after 60 minutes, the Wembley crowd was no wiser about his abilities.
Mudryk was no worse than most of his teammates and was marginally better than some of them, but he was still substituted by coach Ruslan Rotan, who had recently called him “a diamond to be cherished.”
Before the match, Mudryk had received high praise from former head of the Shakhtar academy Andres Carrasco Carrillo, who described him as “a genius” in the match day programme. However, his performance against Gareth Southgate’s side did not live up to the hype. He had one shot off target, no key passes, one dribble, did not win any free-kicks, and was dispossessed four times.
To be fair, it was almost impossible for anyone on the Ukrainian team to shine against England because Ukraine was so far below their level. However, Mudryk’s frustration was evident when he was substituted just before he could make any significant contribution to the game.
He had hoped to join Arsenal and even admitted in an interview that he was dreaming of a move to the Emirates. But Chelsea’s billions gazumped the League leaders, and Mudryk now finds himself playing catch-up in mid-table, unsure of his place in Graham Potter’s pecking order.
There is no doubt that Mudryk has real talent, but it is taking longer to reach the surface than most of us were expecting.
At the moment, his massive price tag is weighing him down, and he is struggling to deal with the disappointment of another poor performance.
Perhaps he needs more time to adjust to English football and to find his place in the team. Only time will tell if he can live up to his potential and justify his high transfer fee but right now, Arsenal must be laughing while Chelsea are crying.