Chelsea swooped in and stole Mykhailo Mudryk from right under Arsenal’s nose back in January. The Gunners appeared to have a deal for the young Ukrainian done and dusted, but new Blues owner Todd Boehly loosened his purse strings once again and forked out a massive £89 million for the 22-year-old — who put pen to paper on a remarkable eight-and-a-half contract at Stamford Bridge.
Mudryk made a promising debut against Liverpool, impressing with his blistering pace and his ability to beat opposition players in his 10-minute cameo at Anfield. But that’s about the best we’ve seen from him in a blue shirt to date as his first six months at Stamford Bridge have largely been worth forgetting.
In total, the 22-year-old made 15 appearances in the Premier League and a further two in the Champions League but failed to score a single goal and provided just two assists in 17 outings — setting up Matteo Kovacic in a 3-1 win over Leicester City and Conor Gallagher as the Blues were beaten 2-1 by Brighton.
In Mudryk’s defence, Chelsea endured what was their worst campaign in almost 30 years last term as they ultimately finished outside the top half of the table for the first time since the mid-1990s and fell out of favour in the Premier League top 4 odds. When all the players around him are also out of form, it’s hard to expect him to hit the ground running and set the world alight.
Then you’ve got to consider the initial bedding in period. It is especially hard for a young player to arrive in the middle of a season and try to immediately settle in one of the best leagues in the world while also adapting to a new culture and so on.
As we enter the 2023-24 Premier League season though, Mudryk is starting to run out of excuses for his performances. But there is still plenty of hope that he can live up to his mammoth price tag as he’s enjoyed a good pre-season under new Chelsea boss Mauricio Pochettino — scoring his first goal for the club with a stunning strike from outside the box in a 4-3 win over Brighton in Philadelphia.
There is plenty of competition for a place on the wings at Chelsea, with Raheem Sterling, Noni Madueke and summer signing Christopher Nkunku all in contention for a starting berth on the flanks. But Mudryk has all ingredients to be a fantastic player and if Pochettino can find the right recipe with him then we might just get a taste of how good he can be this coming season.
There is a lot of pressure on Mudryk’s shoulders going into the new campaign after his performances last year though, so it’s probably a good idea for Pochettino to ease him into the swing of things and perhaps use the Ukrainian as an impact sub to begin with as opposed to throwing him straight in at the deep end.
We saw what he could do off the bench against tiring legs at Anfield back in January and he could be Pochettino’s secret weapon late on again when Chelsea host Liverpool at Stamford Bridge on August 13. Only time will tell if he can prove the doubters wrong, but he certainly has the making too.