How Chelsea got Mudryk wrong
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By Bulldog Drummond
Arsenal plot surprise move for 26-year-old Premier League striker That piece in Hard Tackle leans on a story from Football Insider which quoted unnamed “sources,” as the origin of the story that Arsenal want to buy Dominic Calvert-Lewin. It is one of hundreds of such stories, and for each one we are left not really knowing if it was made up, or if it is a serious possibility. It looks dubious to me, but then, what do I know?
But thinking of this led me back to the last big transfer rumour of January that the whole of the football journalism world went crazy over: the certainty that Arsenal were going to sign Mykhaylo Mudryk. Indeed with a week still to go in the January transfer window we had noted 53 separate reports in the media saying that Arsenal were indeed buying the player.
And yet they didn’t.
Most sites then left the subject alone, although a few did ponder why Mykhaylo Mudryk did not go to Arsenal. Were the club too slow? Was Arsenal too measly in its offer of payments? Did Mudryk think Arsenal had no chance of success this season, and so decided on Chelsea as a better option? (That last point seems unlikely given that in mid-January Arsenal were eight points ahead of Manchester City with the same number of games played and a whopping 19 points ahead of Chelsea who had played one more game than Arsenal).
Or had all those websites and newspapers been led up the garden path by a clever piece of Arsenal misdirection? Which is to say, Arsenal were perfectly clear on who they wanted to sign in January (Jorginho from Chelsea, and Leandro Trossard from Brighton) and wanted to keep those matters private and indeed secret, and so deliberately misled an eternally very gullible media into distracting Chelsea as the Jorginho move went through?
Or perhaps even worse, was the whole thing a newspaper hoax in which one journalist made up the story, slipped it to some contacts, and simply let it run? When we regularly reported on transfer rumours that is how it always seemed to us.
But back to Mudruk. Since his signing he has played in four Premier League games for Chelsea. So maybe he is “one for the future” – although given that he cost €100 million according to some reports that seems a bit over the top.
So what happened? Was it really that Arsenal wanted the player but Chelsea outbid them with neither club being aware that Mudruk simply wasn’t that good? Or were Arsenal after Leandro Trossard all the time – and got a friendly journalist to run the Mudryk rumours, which the club did nothing to deny, while Arsenal got on with the real transfers.
And here’s another thing… how come Chelsea would spend so much money on a player who at least at the moment, actually isn’t very good. Or at least not good enough to play in every match. Indeed not good enough to save the manager’s job. Did Chelsea’ recruitment staff think, “if Arsenal want him he must be good” were suckered into the deal?
So here’s a point: imagine that Arsenal really had wanted to buy Mudryk, and had in fact got him for the 100 million. That would mean Arsenal would not have got Trossard for £21m on 20 January this year. He has since played eight times for the first team.
Mudryk has started four games and been a sub in three but not scored a goal. Their last game – and one in which he played – was a 0-2 home defeat to Aston Villa.
So we have a choice of what we believe. Either Arsenal really wanted him, believing him to be worth all the money, but were outbid by Chelsea, and in the end settled on Trossard as second best, or Arsenal didn’t want him at all and journalists (with or without a nod from Arsenal) made up the story about Mudryk to Arsenal, and Chelsea bought into it.
Of course we won’t know for sure, but if Arsenal seriously were in for Mudryk, that would have been the first major mistake of Arteta’s career – and the fact that he hasn’t really made any blunders like that, makes me think Arsenal were never interested, but were happy to see a cover for the real story – the transfer of Trossard.
So, Chelsea with Mudryk and Arsenal with Trossard. How have they done?
However it happened, Arsenal paid a lot, lot less, and got a lot, lot more. which is rather clever.
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