Arsenal remain in talks with Shakhtar Donetsk over the signing of striker Mykhailo Mudryk, who is valued at £85m.
The Gunners, who are said to have had an opening bid worth around £55million including rejected add-ons, have yet to meet the Ukrainian club’s demands, with the payment structure also in discussion course.
Sources familiar with the deal told Sky Sports News that Shakhtar consider Mudryk, who has played just eight times for his country and is yet to score a goal in international football, as one of the top five wingers in the world.
Shakhtar believe he is better than Antony at Manchester United, who cost Ajax £86million in the summer, and are using him as a benchmark in negotiations.
Another source had already said Sky Sports News there is cautious optimism that a deal can be reached with Arsenal which would be buoyed by the player’s desire to join.
Mudryk was watching Arsenal’s game against West Ham on Boxing Day on TV and posted a picture on Instagram.
Arsenal wanted to bolster the line ahead of this summer and replaced former Leeds winger Raphinha, who ended up joining Barcelona in a £55m deal.
Potential signing Mudryk is seen as an ideal purchase for Arsenal – the Ukraine international is someone the Gunners have been watching for some time.
Mudryk isn’t seen as a direct replacement for Gabriel Jesus, however, who is expected to return before the end of the season.
The 21-year-old has scored 10 goals this season for Shakhtar, including three in the Champions League group stage.
Why Mudryk is in demand
At the start of last season, he was an unknown outside of Ukraine with a transfer value of less than £1million. Today, he is one of the most coveted young players in Europe. After a meteoric rise, Mykhailo Mudryk seems destined for great things.
The 21-year-old, who showed his thrilling speed and one-on-one ability in the Champions League group stage earlier this season, has been described by Shakhtar Donetsk director of football Darijo Srna , as “the best player in Europe in his position” after Kylian Mbappe and Vinicius Junior.
There may be a hint of exaggeration in this statement, but Srna is not the only one who holds Mudryk in high regard. His list of suitors is long and Premier League leaders Arsenal are at the top.
Mudryk a special talent for pushing the competition
Ben Grounds from Sky Sports:
“Mudryk is a special talent. Anyone who has seen him play will realize the type of player he is. Direct and threatening with the ball at his feet, Shakhtar’s courageous attempt to navigate their way through the Champions League groups ultimately failed, but their standout performer was Mudryk.
“He played mostly on the left side for Shakhtar, so it will be interesting to see if Mikel Arteta will deploy him in the same position or as a No.10.
“Gabriel Martinelli has performed so well on the left while Eddie Nketiah proves a capable understudy to Gabriel Jesus in the middle.
“As with Liverpool’s pursuit of Cody Gakpo, this transfer offers Arsenal a variety of attacks. Their opportunity to be this close to a first league title since 2004 may not present itself for another four or five years.
“Both Martinelli and Nketiah will be buoyed by the imminent arrival of Mudryk.
“Arsenal wouldn’t have moved for Mudryk without doing their due diligence on the player and how he fits into the style that Arteta wants to play, but with Arsenal in such a strong position in the Premier League, this wouldn’t be a surprise if this was the end of their January transfer activity.
“The Arsenal board are reacting to the team’s strong position and Mudryk’s early decision shows they mean business.”