The Superstar, The Arteta Old Boy, The Other Eastern European Wonderkid & The Cheap Choice – Mykhailo Mudryk Alternatives

Shakhtar Donetsk are reportedly still holding out for €100million for Mykhaylo Mudryk.

Their sky high asking price is driven by Manchester United overpaying for Antony.

Liverpool signed Cody Gakpo for half that price. And whilst I think Mudryk has the higher ceiling, Gakpo is currently the better player and more established in Europe and on an international level.

Mudryk, remember, has just 30 Ukrainian top flight appearances to his name.

If Donetsk refuse to lower their demands, Arsenal will walk away. Paying €100m for Mudryk is too much and will have a huge impact on future transfer windows.

So if we walk away, what are our options?

Joao Felix – The Superstar

Mikel Arteta and Edu have long standing admiration for Felix.

The Portuguese forwards career has not quite ignited since his €126million move to Atletico Madrid.

This shouldn’t be surprised considering the free flowing attacker joined the most defensive team the world has ever seen.

Persistent injuries and the return of Antoine Griezmann – who he was signed to replace.

Still just 23-years-old, he has the technical ability and work rate to play in Arteta’s Arsenal. And you would like to think that Arteta and his coaching team’s renowned one-to-one training will help him reach his potential.

The issue with Felix has always been Atletico’s huge asking price. But if we are considering spending the €100m on Mudryk, then we should consider spending that money on an upgrade.

There is also an option of an (expensive) loan deal.

Atletico are asking for a €15million loan fee and for the team to cover his wages taking a total deal to €21million. that feels very expensive for 5 months work. And we have been stun by loan deals before. Players do not have the time to aclimatise to a new country, a new way of playing.

It is crazy to think people are writing off Felix whilst hyping up Rafael Leao as a great young talent. Felix is younger than his Portuguese team mate.

David Ornstein recently came out and spoke about how Felix is on our radar. I think we are using him to drive down Mudryk’s price.

The point is being made, through the press, that we have other options.

(Note: Looks like Felix is now off to Chelsea. Looking at the deal they have agreed, with no option to buy, I am glad we have skipped it).

Leroy Sane – The Arteta Old Boy

It feels like ever since Leroy Sane moved to Bayern Munich, he has been linked with a move back to England.

He has not quite hit the same form for the Bundesliga champions as he did for Manchester City, and has also dropped off in form for Germany (although every German has dropped off after their World Cup performance).

He has spent much of Christmas back in Manchester and seems to be pining for a return to England.

Arteta took Sane under his wing whilst the pair were at Man City.

In an interview about Arteta in 2020, Sane said ‘he was the one who pulled me aside and gave me the tactical tweaks to better my game

‘On a psychological and personal level, he really helped, he was so invested in Sane becoming a better player, growing as a person.’

Sane is tried and tested in the Premier League. He knows Arteta and Arteta knows him.

The likelihood is he will not move in January. But like with Jesus, he might be worthwhile keeping our powder dry for in the summer. If we can’t get Mudryk now or then.

Khvicha Kvaratskhelia – The Other Eastern European Wonderkid

Georgian Kvaratskhelia made the move to Italy last summer, joining Napoli.

He has quickly established himself as their new talisman. His goals and assists driving Napoli to top of the league.

He and Mudryk have been known as the two big young talents from that part of the world for some time.

Kvaratskhelia made the big move last summer that Mudryk is looking to make this January. As he is now performing in a top 5 European league, you would have to argue that he is now a couple of runs on the ladder above Mudryk.

The feeling was that as Mudryk was less established, he would be available cheaper than Kvaratskhelia.

Mudryk around the €50m mark, Kvaratskhelia €80m.

If Shakhtar continue to demand huge money for Mudryk, Arsenal could switch their sights to Kvaratskhelia.

Similar profile, similar age, similar position and playing style. Kvaratskhelia just a bit more proven at a higher level.

If we are spending €80-100m on one of them, Kvaratskhelia has to be who we go for.

Probably not an option till the summer though

Facundo Torres – The Cheap Choice

If we decide that none of our primary targets are available in January, we have two main options.

The first is to sign no-one. Keep the money in the bank, and revisit the situation on the summer. Similar to how the Dusan Vlahovic / Gabriel Jesus situation played out.

This would be a risky strategy as we are thin up top.

Last year we collapsed in the closing stages of the season as Bukayo Saka and Gabriel Martinelli ran out of steam. As we have not added to the pool of widemen available (although Fabio Vieira can play there), the chances are we will be in a similar situation this year.

Martinelli and Saka are a year older, but this season the pair have also had a World Cup and European football to contend with.

Long-term readers of the blog will know I am against “short-term options”. They often end up being transfer flops, quickly surplus to requirements and sold on (or released) at a big loss.

Whilst Torres would be a short term option, the €8million transfer fee would not have much impact on our future budget.

He would likely come in on very low wages and, at just 22-years-old, you would expect us to be able recoup a lot of his transfer fee even if he struggles. We could also make a million here, million there by loaning him out across Europe.

But Torres is not a bad player.

We have been watching him for some time and he was part of Uruguay’s World Cup squad – although he was an unused substitute throughout.

He may well prove good enough to be “4th choice” in the future, and in the short term do a job coming in for either Saka or Martinelli for “lesser” games.

Personally, I have always felt it is his agent linking him to us to garner interest elsewhere in Europe – similar to what happened with Miguel Almiron.

With Reiss Nelson and Emile Smith Rowe both still struggling, he becomes a viable option if we struggle to get in a “big name” in January.

A move for Torres, before returning for any of the above or Mudryk in the summer could be a possible scenario.

Keenos

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