Mudryk the January priority, but what about the fee?

Morning all.

We’ve been having quite the cold snap here in Ireland for the last week or so, and I would just like to officially go on the record to say I have had enough. Minus temperatures, freezing fog that hangs in the air like a Harry Kane penalty, slippery footpaths – let’s get it right: winter is terrible and should I become Supreme President of All Ireland, I would do away with it at once.

How? Good question. I have not given this much thought – but one idea would be to replace all street lights with those heat lamps you can get for your back garden. Sure, it would be massively expensive to run them nationwide, but but now that they’ve figured out fusion technology, we don’t have to worry about that. Well, I assume we don’t. I probably need to do a little more reading. And anyway, I won’t be launching my bid until the weather warms up properly, so they have another few weeks to fine-tune the whole thing.

Anyway, let’s talk Arsenal and as we think about the second half of the season, there’s a lot of focus on what we’re going to do in January. We know that Mikel Arteta and Edu were in the US to have the chats with Stan and Josh, and I doubt this was simply about catching up and going to see an LA Rams game.

Yesterday, in his column in The Athletic (£), David Ornstein reported that our main target for next month is Mykhaylo Mudryk. The 21 year old has been linked with us for some time, and we know very well that before the last transfer window closed, the club were pursuing a winger before our plans got derailed because of the injuries to Mo Elneny and Thomas Partey.

So, it’s not at all a surprise that his name is being mentioned again, and much like when we try and read into the training pictures to figure out the weekend’s team selection, I try and pay close attention to how David phrases things in his articles. In this one he says:

Their priority target is Shakhtar Donetsk winger Mykhaylo Mudryk and sources with knowledge of the matter think there is a good chance it will happen, though nothing is agreed at present.

The vagaries of the transfer market and all the ways a deal can go south have to be taken into account when you write about a potential deal, but ‘sources with knowledge of the matter think there is a good chance it will happen’ is pretty encouraging. The question, I guess, isn’t whether Shakhtar will sell or if the player wants to come – it’s how much it will take for the deal to get done.

They are talking publicly about a fee close to €100m, and frankly that’s not really feasible for a 21 year old, regardless of how good he might be. David goes on to say ‘…but interested parties are of the understanding that a lower fee would be deemed acceptable.’

If, as reported, Brentford had agreed a deal worth €25m in the summer, it then comes down to how much value you put on his performances since then, and what that will have added to his fee. Generally speaking, you’d need to see a footballer do something kinda remarkable to double their worth in 6 months. Let’s take Jude Bellingham as an example, shining at the World Cup will certainly see the officials at Borussia Dortmund reassess how much they’d accept from any bidding club, and for the player himself, it allows more negotiation when it comes to discussing ‘personal terms’.

A quick glance at Mudryk’s stats shows 10 goals and 8 assists since August. They break down into 7+6 in domestic football, and 3+2 in six Champions League appearances. Decent numbers, and perhaps a sign that a player is starting to fulfil his potential, but you also have to take into account the league he’s playing in. With all due respect to our Ukrainian friends, Mudryk will face tougher opposition on a weekly basis if he does move to the Premier League. In the Champions League two of this three goals came against Celtic, and the other against Disgustingly Sweet Energy Drink Leipzig.

Which isn’t to downplay those stats, but if you’re the buying club, it’s something you’d take into account when preparing a bid. Are those the kind of numbers that could double a player’s value in the space of a few months? Football is a bit of a mad industry, so maybe, but maybe too this is a deal that could be heavily built on incentives and achievements. So, the better he does, the better it is for Shakhtar. If they value him at €100m, do they have enough faith in his talent to agree to the kind of transfer where that talent has to come through for then to benefit to the max?

It’s fair to say that Arsenal have demonstrated a willingness to pay a premium for someone they consider to be the right player. There were lots of eyebrows raised about the fees for Ben White and Aaron Ramsdale at the time of their arrivals – not so much now. So, how this one plays out will be fascinating. There’s also the discussion about what this kind of signing might mean for our depth at centre-forward, but I might save that for tomorrow.

Until then, take it easy, and stay warm. Unless you’re living somewhere that isn’t absolutely freezing, in which case can I come visit for a while?

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