Arsenal have made significant progress on a deal to sign Mykhaylo Mudryk following fresh talks with Shakhtar Donetsk on Monday prior to the Gunners’ resounding 3-0 FA Cup victory at Oxford United.
Although the two clubs remain in negotiations and are still yet to agree on a fee, the exhausting saga now appears to be nearing a rewarding conclusion for sporting director Edu and Mikel Arteta after the stubborn Ukrainian giants finally began to soften their position on a sale for the first time by discussing the potential structure of a deal.
Arsenal had been left to lick their wounds after seeing their opening two bids worth £55 million and £62 million including add-ons rebuffed by Shakhtar and there was a burning sense of frustration following the 0-0 Premier League draw with Newcastle last Tuesday when the Gunners were in desperate need of a fresh injection of quality from the bench.
In late December, Arteta was public about his desire to conclude Arsenal’s January transfer business early in the window ahead of a crucial month that will see the Gunners face Tottenham, Manchester United and now Manchester City in the fourth round of the FA Cup.
However, following a recent stalemate, there is now growing confidence that a deal for Mudryk could potentially be struck by the end of the week as Arsenal press to find an agreement with Shakhtar. Fresh talks are already scheduled between club chiefs.
Having continually pointed both Arsenal and Chelsea towards their £85 million valuation, Shakhtar are now understood to be close to agreeing a final figure with the Gunners as talks continue over the payment structure of the transfer.
Arsenal are keen to pad out a large percentage of the final fee with add-ons which are expected to include both team-related – such as winning the Premier League – and performance-related bonus payments.
Although sources are refusing to comment on the numbers involved, Shakhtar are continuing to demand the majority of the money upfront as the two parties seek to find a compromise in the coming days.
After continually using Antony and Jack Grealish’s respective moves to Manchester United (£86 million) and Manchester City (£100 million) as reference points, it appears Shakhtar are now aware that they risk pricing themselves out of their biggest-ever payday and cash they so desperately need.
Furthermore, Mudryk has continued to flirt with a move to Arsenal on Instagram – making it clear he wishes to depart Shakhtar to pursue his Premier League dream in north London which is slowly backing the selling club into a corner.
In recent months, Arsenal’s top January transfer target even publicly outed his current club over their sky-high asking price, claiming it would be hurtful if Shakhtar denied him the chance to further his career.
Mudryk will be part of the Shakhtar squad that returns to the training field in Turkey this week as preparations begin for the Europa League knockout clash with Rennes next month, when the Ukrainian Premier League also restarts.
Shakhtar have briefed that they are open to keeping the 22-year-old winger until the end of the season to maximise their chances of winning the title but with Arsenal evidently determined to bring in attacking reinforcements this winter, there is expectation that they could move onto other targets.
Although Chelsea held face-to-face talks with Shakhtar director of football Darijo Srna in London last week, the Blues still only seem prepared to move for Mudryk if Arsenal fail to strike a deal after turning attention to Marcus Thuram.
It is already abundantly clear that the Ukraine international attacker wants to join Arsenal after already agreeing personal terms, therefore Chelsea are understandably reluctant to sanction a mega-money deal for a player that would prefer to join a rival.
The Blues will continue to monitor the situation but it appears Mudryk’s move to Arsenal is finally on the right track as negotiations continue.
Chelsea have now moved quickly to agree a six-month dry loan deal with Atletico Madrid for Joao Felix, who had also been of interest to both Arsenal and Manchester United.
When quizzed on the Portuguese’s impending move to Stamford Bridge, Arteta told ITV’s Gabriel Clark, “My job is to make those [Arsenal] players as good as I can. We try to do that and then if we have reinforcements, great.”
- An Express report