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Faster Mbappe. Top clubs in Europe hunt for Ukrainian talent

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In Shakhtar, another talent is growing up, which may soon be in one of the European giants. Until recently, 21-year-old Mikhail Mudrik did not know if he could get a place in the first team of his native team, and now they demand at least a hundred million euros for him. Sport talks about a young striker who is already being compared to Kylian Mbappe, especially since they may well become teammates.Mudryk received his football education at Metalist and Dnipro until he joined the Shakhtar academy in 2016. Paulo Fonseca began to let him in at the base, under which the young man made his debut for the main team in the Ukrainian Cup match in October 2018. It was difficult for the 17-year-old striker to count on game practice, since he had to compete with the most experienced Tyson, Ivan Petryak and the talented Israeli Manor Solomon. I could have stayed with the base and waited for my chance, but renting seemed like the smarter option.

Mudryk spent the second half of the 2018/19 season at Arsenal Kyiv, but even there he appeared on the field only three times and mainly played for the youth team. Returning to Shakhtar, the young striker again unsuccessfully tried to gain a foothold in the base. By that time, Fonseca had already left the team, and Luis Castro did not see the potential in the guy to strengthen the team right now. Nevertheless, Mikhail nevertheless took part in three matches and deserved a gold medal for winning the championship.

Mudrik spent half of the next season on loan at Desna, where he played regularly, and in January he was back at his native club. This time, the stronger striker was determined to seriously fight for his chance at Shakhtar. Everything changed the arrival of Roberto De Zerbi, who was invited to replace Luis Castro, who had worked out a two-year contract. In addition, the competition has significantly decreased – from the old contenders for a place at the start, only Manor Solomon remained. Actually, the Israeli was then a key player, and Mudrik insured him from the bench, which had a positive effect on his progress.

“Mudrik is a good fellow, a very strong and good guy. Sometimes you need to scold him a lot, and sometimes you need to caress him. But this applies not only to Mudrik, but also to other young football players. In my opinion, he has matured significantly during these months of our joint work. This it is not true that he is an egoist. On the contrary, he sometimes lacks just egoism, he must inflict more shots on goal, go one on one more often. My team and I are completely at his disposal. As a result of our work, these are titles, victories and not only . We help the player to become a footballer with a capital letter,” De Zerby said in an interview with the BurBuzz YouTube channel.

As a result, for the entire 2021/22 season, Mudryk played 19 matches in all competitions, scoring two goals and nine assists. Moreover, at the end of 2021, the fans recognized him as the best player on the team. In social media voting, the young striker outperformed veterans Marlos, Taras Stepanenko, Andriy Pyatov, young stars Anatoly Trubin and Lassin Traore, as well as rival Solomon. This was largely due to his excellent performance against AS Monaco Oleksandr Golovin in the Champions League qualification, which allowed Shakhtar to reach the group stage.

The fastest player in the Champions League group stage
This season, Mudryk has already entered as a full-fledged star of Shakhtar. Solomon left on loan to Fulham, and Ivan Petryak, who returned from Hungary, could not compete now. De Zerbi left, but Igor Jovichevich, who replaced him, understood what kind of legacy he had, and continued to develop the striker.

In the championship of Ukraine, Mudryk consistently appeared in the starting lineup, demonstrating phenomenal performance. Over eight rounds, the 21-year-old has scored four goals and provided five assists, while his team is currently in second, chasing Dnipro. He was especially good in October, when he scored in four Premier League matches in a row (4+4). Perhaps the best was the game against Kyiv “Dynamo” (3:1) – Mudryk took a direct part in two scoring attacks.

But he drew the attention of the world community to himself in the Champions League. Shakhtar got into a difficult group with Leipzig, Celtic and Real Madrid, while Mudrik proved himself in the first game in Germany. The Ukrainian club unexpectedly defeated the representative of the Bundesliga (4:1) thanks to a goal and two assists from the rising star.

Shakhtar did not win again, finishing the group stage in third place with a ticket to the playoffs of the Europa League. Mudrik also scored once more in both meetings with Celtic (1:1, 1:1) and performed well in games with Real Madrid (1:2, 1:1). By the way, while Thibaut Courtois was recovering from his injury, the gates of Madrid were defended by Andrei Lunin, Mikhail's countryman from Krasnograd, who warmly greeted his compatriots. The event is not ordinary, since only 20 thousand people live in this small city of the Kharkov region. And two of them are now making great football careers.

Mudrik also became the author of a curious achievement in the Champions League. It was the Ukrainian striker who showed the highest speed in the group stage – 36.6 kilometers per hour. According to this indicator, he shared the first place among all participants with the representative of “Barcelona” Ousmane Dembele, a famous runner. Three was closed by the leader of “Milan” Rafael Leau (36.5), and, for example, Kylian Mbappe was not found even in the top 10. So keeping up with Mudrik is almost impossible.Interestingly, Mudrik was not in the top 10 best players in the world under 21 according to the authoritative FourFourTwo magazine. Colleagues put Jude Bellingham from Borussia Dortmund in first place, and Khvicha Kvaratskhelia, who is well known to us, closed the top five, but the Ukrainian did not get into their company. However, this is unlikely to somehow affect the quotes of the player on the market.

Shakhtar refused to sell the star – and did the right thing
Interest in Mudrik appeared last winter. For example, the player's agent Alexei Alekhin said that the English Brentford came out with a substantive proposal for Shakhtar. The representative of the Premier League was ready to pay 12 million euros, which, against the background of the striker's recent successes, look ridiculous. After such a performance in the Champions League, as well as a dozen matches for the national team, Mudrik's market value began to rise sharply. Back in the fall of last year, Transfermarkt analysts estimated him at only 900 thousand euros, while now – at 15 million. This figure appeared after the September update – by the winter window it can be safely multiplied by two.

Now Mudrik no longer makes sense to consider options like Brentford or Brighton, which is headed by his old friend De Dzerby. Such teams are unable to satisfy the financial appetites of Shakhtar and the player himself. Now European giants are ready to shell out a lot of money to hunt for the star of the Ukrainian national team. The club's deputy sporting director Carlo Nicolini recently spoke about what offers Shakhtar are ready to consider.

“We do not consider requests of 40-50 million euros. If the club receives such an offer, we don’t even call the president to tell about it. We value Mudrik higher than the Brazilian Anthony, who left for Manchester United in the summer for 100 million. “We don't have a pressing need to sell a footballer. We don't want to set an unthinkable price tag, but in our team he is the most important player. If you want to get a footballer from a top club that influences the outcome of matches, you need to offer the right amount,” Nicolini said in a conversation with Calciomercato.

Nicolini also confirmed that Manchester City and Arsenal, as well as other top clubs, are showing interest in Mudrik. French journalists are sure that PSG have put their eye on the Ukrainian, which sees him as a replacement for Neymar. The Brazilian disappointed the leadership of the Parisians with constant quarrels with partners, and the graduate of Shakhtar looks like an ideal alternative. It is reported that the sheikhs are ready to shell out 100 million euros already this winter, and this is potentially the biggest transfer in January.

There are rumors that Shakhtar's management wants to hastily re-sign the contract with Mudrik. The previous agreement was concluded only last February – until December 2026, but a lot has changed in the past months. The new contract will knock out extra few millions from buyers. In any case, sooner or later, Mudrik will go on promotion and bring the club treasury a record amount. At the moment, Shakhtar's most expensive sale remains the Brazilian Fred, who joined Manchester United for 59 million euros in the 2018/19 season. And of the Ukrainian players, Andriy Shevchenko, who moved from Milan to Chelsea in 2006 for 44 million, was the most worth.

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