Let me start by laying my cards on the table. I wanted Arsenal to sign Mykhailo Mudryk.
I was hopeful we would get him last summer and, when we didn’t, prayed we would be in for him in January. And we were.
He was an exciting young talent and had just the profile that would see him flourish at Arsenal.
But as our links intensified, so did some doubts. And they all surrounded his fee.
Under Edu, the recruitment team have worked very hard in two aspects.
The first was cutting the wage bill. All those overpaid ageing stars. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Mesut Ozil, Alexandre Lacazette and more. All were let go or paid to leave. We did a great job clearing the decks.
And then you have the brilliant signings.
It was clear we were going for a certain profile – under 24, talented, Premier League experience, and well priced.
Gabriel Jesus, Martin Odegaard, Ben White, Aaron Ramsdale, Oleksandr Zinchenko, Fábio Vieira, Takehiro Tomiyasu, Albert Sambi Lokonga and Nuno Tavares fitted some – if not all of this criteria.
We had also learned from the Nicolas Pepe mistake.
If a seller keeps pushing their price up – or refuses to drop it – do not overpay what we think is the value of the player.
Last December, we walked away from the Dusan Vlahovic deal. And I blogged in December that Edu and his team should not get obsessed with Mudryk. That they should be prepared to walk away if Shakhtar Dontestk were unwilling to agree a reasonable price.
And in the end, we decided our price, drew our line in the sand, and Chelsea swept in and snatched him.
Shakhtar spent Saturday trolling Arsenal fans knowing what was coming. And when he signed for Chelsea, the usual suspects began complaining.
But Arsenal were right to negotiate. To not pay over the odds. Just like Manchester City did last summer with Marc Cucurella.
City did not want to pay what Brighton were asking for the left back and, like with Mudryk, Chelsea swept in and paid the asking price.
Cucurella has since struggled at Chelsea and he does not look the £50million left back.
Chelsea’s policy of just paying the asking price is a dangerous one. The extra you end up paying will end up accumulating and, at some point, you will no longer have the funds to buy the players you want.
Failing to negotiate could mean you only sign 3 players instead of 5. And whilst it is all “look how much we are spending” with Chelsea right now, it will catch up with them. Expect them to spend very little, if anything, for the 3 or 4 years beyond this summer. Unless they sell some of the lads they have recently signed.
So Mudryk. Yes I wanted him. But he was always one for the future.
Like with Jose Antonio Reyes in 2003, I would have been surprised if Mudryk put in more than a couple of match winning performances in the 2nd half of the season.
Mudryk is 22-years-old, but has very little senior football to his name.
Injury and war has meant his development has been stunted. He has less than 50 Ukranian Premier League games to his name. And is still yet to complete a season as a regular starter. He has a total of 65 career domestic games to his name.
Martinelli, who is 6 months younger, has played 108 times for Arsenal, at a higher level.
And this is where the Mudryk deal always made me feel uncomortable.
Martinelli is a fantastic player. Bukayo Saka is boderline World Class.
We either had to buy someone who was better than Martinelli, or someone who can compete in cover with the Brazilian and Saka.
At £62million, rising to £88million, I would expect that player to be able to come in and make an instant impact. To be better than Martinelli. To start week in week out.
I would not expect him to be a raw young talent, a risk, a roll of the dice. Someone not guaranteed of a start. That was Nicolas Pepe. And it is Mudryk.
Would Mudryk have started ahead of Martinelli if both were fit? No.
So Mudryk would have been coming in to initially be that cover and competition for Saka and Martinelli. He was not coming in to win us the Premier League.
He would have been useful in the secind half of the season, but not essential. And at potentially £88million, you would expect him to be essential.
So what do I now expect Arsenal to do? Well with Emile Smith Rowe returning from fitness and Fabio Vieira growing, they will probably be the short-term cover for Saka and Martinelli.
Long term? Do not be surprised if we sign someone else that joined Chelsea in January. Joao Felix. Now he would be worth that big fee. Just can not happen until the summer.
Not signing Mudryk would not have been a difference maker when we played Spurs. Nor would he be a difference maker this weekend against Manchester United, or in the future against City. Martinelli is still that man.
At such a high price tag, Mudryk was clearly not a roll of the dice Edu was prepared to take. And I back his decision making.
And I certainlly would not want to see us starting to give out 7.5 year contracts!
Final thought: All those crying about his departure has probably seen him play less than 3 times.