Why Chelsea have splashed the cash to sign Mudryk

By Sports Desk January 15, 2023

Mykhaylo Mudryk has become the latest mega-money acquisition in the Premier League, completing a huge move to Chelsea.

The Blues saw off competition from London rivals Arsenal to complete a move for the Ukraine international, who becomes the most expensive Premier League signing this window.

Chelsea reportedly paid £88.5 million (€100m) to add the 22-year-old to their ranks.

Arriving from his homeland, Mudryk has excelled in the past 18 months for Shakhtar and his performances in the Champions League this season gave his profile a significant boost.

However, with inexperience in a strong domestic league, questions may be asked as to why Mudryk was signed ahead of other targets. 

With the help of Opta data, Stats Perform has assessed why Chelsea have gone all out for Mudryk.

The Antony benchmark

The fee paid for Mudryk's services was driven up by Manchester United's signing of Antony from Ajax last year, with Shakhtar's sporting director Carlo Nicolini telling Calcio Napoli 24 that this was the benchmark for a sale of Mudryk.

"Given that we have no need for transfers, we said in due time that we evaluate the player stronger than some other profiles, such as Antony. This is the benchmark," he said.

United splashed a reported £85m (€95m) to land the Brazil international and, while it can be argued that they overpaid, it is fair for Shakhtar to assess that they see Mudryk as a "stronger" profile than Antony.

Since the start of the 2021-22 season, Mudryk has contributed to a goal (by either scoring or assisting) every 70 minutes in the Ukrainian Premier League.

That compares favourably to Antony, who has recorded a goal contribution every 144 minutes in the Eredivisie and Premier League.

A tally of 22 direct goal contributions (nine goals and 13 assists) comes from just 23 appearances, 11 less than Antony, who has 12 goals and six assists.

Given the pair have featured in different leagues, a comparison in the Champions League is fairer, where Mudryk has three goals and two assists in 12 matches, while Antony has two goals and four assists in the same number of games.

Mudryk has played over 200 minutes less than Antony though, leading to an average of 139 minutes per direct goal contribution which ranks him ahead of the Brazilian, who averages 153 minutes.

Another attacking option, but is it the right move?

In the Premier League this season, Chelsea have scored just 21 goals in 18 matches, which stands as the lowest tally in the top 10 of the division.

The struggles in the final third have come due to a lack of a reliable option in attack, with Kai Havertz and Raheem Sterling their joint top-scorers in the league with four goals each – and only three other players have scored more than once. 

This season, Mudryk has seven goals in the Ukrainian Premier League and has a minutes-per-goal or assist average of 65 minutes, showing that he can be the key to spark life into Graham Potter's attacking ranks.

An issue, however, is that Mudryk is not a central striker, an area where Chelsea are crying out for reinforcements, and the signing does beg questions as to what Todd Boehly's plan for the squad is – having spent an audacious amount since completing his takeover at Stamford Bridge next year.

While Mudryk can add goals to Chelsea's game, his contribution from the left may rely heavily on who is in the centre to tuck home the chances he created, though he can create a deadly partnership with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, should the former Arsenal man find his best form.

Chelsea are dealing with a long injury list, yet they have so many players who are forwards but not out-and-out strikers. Where will Mason Mount fit in? What about Havertz, or Sterling? Let's not forget Joao Felix, who only last week joined on loan from Atletico Madrid. He looked sharp on his debut against Fulham, before he then went and got sent off for a rash tackle.

Mudryk fits the profile of a high-quality young player that Chelsea are focusing on following Boehly's takeover, but he is another piece to a complicated puzzle that Potter has to solve at Stamford Bridge.

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