Did Arsenal want Mudryk and Caicedo, and was it just luck that they didn’t sign them?


Today’s Anniversary: 28 February: Arsenal make it 32 goals in 7 games

By Sir Hardly Anyone

In the January transfer window of 2023, Mykhailo Mudryk and Moises Caicedo were both wanted by Arsenal.”   We know that because the media endlessly told us.   And are still telling us as in the Athletic today.

So Arsenal missed out on a defensive midfielder and an attacker, and were criticised for it.  The Standard ran the headline telling us that Mykhailo Mudryk was a “most talented and unique player” and the blame on Arsenal for failing to get such players was universal.

The Mirror in June for example, had told us  “Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta is desperate to bring Moises Caicedo to the Emirates “…And there were hundreds more such reports on both players.

Indeed according to the Athletic the Shakhtar Donetsk, chief executive Sergei Palkin, Arsenal used a tactic of having Mikel Arteta, Oleksandr Zinchenko and Edu calling the club “almost every day, every two days, every three days”.

Also Arsenal met “the player a month before any offer was put in,” which would be illegal under transfer rules.

And yet Arsenal were never charged with breaking transfer rules, and the players went to Chelsea, who we are told was a club with new owners who were “overseeing a project to ‘build one of the best clubs in the world’.”

So let us consider that. I

In the league table of 2022/23, we find Chelsea in 12th place, escaping relegation by just ten points, while being a staggering 40 points behind Arsenal.   Does that sound very much like a club “overseeing a project to ‘build one of the best clubs in the world’?”


Team P W D L F A GD Pts
2 Arsenal 38 26 6 6 88 43 45 84
12 Chelsea 38 11 11 16 38 47 -9 44
18 Leicester City (releg) 38 9 7 22 51 68 -17 34


We might also ask, what happened to Chelsea with Mudruk (cost £88.5m) and Caicedo (cost £115m)?

Mudruk has played 23 times for Chelsea and Caicedo has played 32 times in all competitions.   But the difference between the two clubs in the league is still quite something.

Last season Chelsea were 40 points behind Arsenal and 10 points above relegation.  This season with 12 or 13 games to go Chelsea are doing better, being 23 points behind Arsenal and 15 above relegation.  So there is an improvement.  But is that little improvement worth the £200m+ spent on those two players that Arsenal supposedly tried to buy?

The accusations against Arsenal are serious – they were in contact with both players without contacting the club.   But there is no record anywhere I can see of any charge being made against Arsenal despite the accusations being made publicly.

And now we can begin to see why the story that the Arsenal deal involved illegal meetings with the players, and Chelsea offering a better deal.  It is in fact a decent cover for the fact of the Premier League positions of the two clubs.

It also detracts from Arsenal’s rather more successful summer signings…

  • Leandro Trossard – £20.5million.(9 league starts)
  • Jakub Kiwior – £21.4million. (7 league starts)
  • Jurrien Timber – £34.2million. (1 league start)
  • Kai Havertz – £65million.(18 league starts)
  • Declan Rice – £105million (26 league  starts)

Of course the reporting had the desired effect, for as the Athletic says, “Many Arsenal supporters were initially frustrated about losing both players to a London rival, particularly in the case of Mudryk.”  And “Brighton were none-too-impressed with Arsenal’s negotiation tactics in the talks over Caicedo,” says the Athletic. Indeed there was a lot of chatter about the failure to build on the success of the previous season.

Yet Rice, Trossard and Jorginho have become very important members of the Arsenal squad. 

There are various ways of seeing this.  One is that all clubs regularly break the rules over transfer enquiries by talking to players first.   A second is that clubs regularly talk to agents which as I understand it is not illegal in footballing rules.   If the agent then tells the player, that’s up to the agent.

The simple fact is Arsenal did the better transfer business in the summer and made Chelsea look pretty silly as they overspent on players who have underperformed.

What’s more, Chelsea have a good reason for re-emphasising the old news, as it reduces the talk about their main failure: their stadium.   The new ground proposed by the now disgraced Russian owner will not be built, and rebuilding the existing ground looks nigh on impossible.    It would cost £2 billion to increase the capacity to 60,000, and take at least seven years during much of which Chelsea would have to play elsewhere.  

But still, The Athletic tell us that Arsenal “really wanted Mudryk and Caicedo” and the players wanted Arsenal.   So if we believe that we have to take it that it was pure luck that they didn’t get them, and got better players instead.

Yet maybe the key to deciding if the Athletic story about Arsenal being so lucky comes from a very different source.   Perhaps they recall that Arsenal’s nickname throughout the Chapman era of success, and later, was always “Lucky Arsenal”. 

There was never any evidence for that concept, just as there is no evidence to back up the Athletic’s story about Arsenal failing to get the players they wanted (who turned out to be not that good) and so took players they didn’t really want (who turned out to be brilliant).  But of course you can believe what you like.

3 Replies to “Did Arsenal want Mudryk and Caicedo, and was it just luck that they didn’t sign them?”

  1. I like think that our team that identifies and then buys the needed players have no time to talk to the insignificant English media , their true intentions and transfer targets . But am glad to say that by playing their cards close to their chests , those two somehow did not end up with us. It looks like that we dodged that bullet !

    While I’m still not fully sold on Kai , Jorgehino looks like one that we needed badly to shore up our midfield . I would play him in every game , while allowing Rice to roam freely . I truly wouldn’t mind him handling our kitchen sink !
    Up the Gunners !

  2. Would it be in the club’s best interest if Arsenal took legal action against some of the media about the stuff they say like the illegal approach? Or would that possibly be a Streisand effect i wonder. Doing the rounds on twitter was that Mudryk was crying on his way to the airport and calling Arsenal to resolve the situation as he didnt want to go to Chelsea.

  3. And who can blame him, Ben.?

    Oh, no, it does not move me
    Even though I’ve seen the movie
    I don’t want to check your pulse
    I don’t want nobody else
    I don’t want to go to Chelsea…

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