Soccer  

Mykhailo Mudryk: Who is Chelsea’s new big-money signing from Shakhtar Donetsk?

Mykhailo Mudryk
Mykhailo Mudryk was at Stamford Bridge on Sunday

Chelsea have spent an initial £62m on a player with 12 career goals who has never played outside Ukraine, so who is Mykhailo Mudryk and why has he caught the eye?

The 22-year-old Shakhtar Donetsk left winger, who has played eight times for Ukraine, increased his stature in this season’s Champions League.

Until this season he had only scored two goals in 47 appearances for three different clubs in his homeland.

But this season his form and profile have exploded.

Mudryk netted three times in the Champions League group stage for Shakhtar – at Leipzig and then two against Celtic – despite their elimination. That is more than any Chelsea player managed.

He also made two assists, as many as any of his soon-to-be Blues team-mates.

Mudryk, who has signed a contract until 2031 and could cost Chelsea a further £27m in bonuses, has netted seven goals in his last eight Ukrainian Premier League matches, with six assists in 12 matches.

In fact he has averaged a goal or assist every 65 minutes in the Ukrainian league this season, and every 79 minutes last season.

All this amid the uncertainty in his homeland with the continuing invasion by Russia. This season, Shakhtar have played home games in Kyiv, Lviv and olish capital Warsaw.

Mykhailo Mudryk
Mudryk scored three goals in the Champions League group stage for Shakhtar

Mudryk does not lack ambition and spoke of his desire to win the Ballon d’Or this weekend.

On being awarded the trophy for Shakhtar’s player of the year for the second time in a row, he told their club website: external-link“No-one expected me to win the Shakhtar player of the year award in 2021 and no-one expects me to get the Golden Ball as well, but it might happen one day. This is one of my personal goals.”

Mudryk has played more games for Roberto de Zerbi, who was Shakhtar boss in 2021-22, than any other manager.

The Italian, now in charge of Brighton, recently said: “I think Mudryk can win the Ballon d’Or in the future.”

Mudryk stepped up to the plate after most of Shakhtar’s foreign players left for free following a Fifa ruling last year that non-Ukrainians could suspend their contracts following the Russian invasion.

Shakhtar demanded £43m in damages from Fifa over lost transfer fees – and probably caused the club to demand such a high fee for one of their few saleable assets.

Until this season Mudryk would not have been hugely known outside of his homeland.

He had goalless loan spells with Arsenal Kyiv in 2018-19 and Desna Chernihiv in 2020-21, as well as a smattering of appearances for his parent club without finding the net.

He made his Champions League debut last season and netted two goals in the Ukrainian Premier League which was never finished because of the war.

But it has been his displays in this campaign where Mudryk made himself a target for several of Europe’s top teams.

Shakhtar president Rinat Akhmetov said: “I am sure that Mykhailo will win respect, sympathy and love of all connoisseurs of world football with his speed, his technique, his impressive and beautiful play.”

Mudryk has also made himself a regular in the Ukraine team since his debut in June 2022, with six of his eight caps coming against Scotland, Wales and the Republic of Ireland.

Chelsea called Mudryk “a skilful player with plenty of pace” and “one of the most dangerous attacking players in Europe in one-v-one situations”.

Blues chairman Todd Boehly and co-controlling owner Behdad Eghbali added in a statement: ‘He’s a hugely exciting talent who we believe will be a terrific addition to our squad both now and in the years to come.”

How to follow Chelsea on the BBC bannerChelsea banner footer