Elite mentality, Neymar comparison and pace to burn: Why Chelsea fans should get excited for Mykhailo Mudryk

 (Chelsea FC via Getty Images)
(Chelsea FC via Getty Images)

Mykhailo Mudryk was likened to Neymar during his time with Shakhtar Donetsk, but he is out to make a name for himself at Stamford Bridge.

Chelsea’s new £88.5million signing is backing himself to ignite their season. His price tag, an eight-and-a-half-year contract and the hype around his move means the pressure is on.

The winger, though, is a player who relishes the spotlight and has already shown that this season, with impressive performances for Shakhtar in the Champions League. He scored three goals as Shakhtar finished third in their group behind Real Madrid and RB Leipzig. He is the fastest player in the competition this season, with a top speed of 22.7mph, and pace is his biggest weapon.

Mudryk excelled cutting in from the left. Given the injury crisis at Chelsea, the Ukrainian could play a similar role under Graham Potter, but he can also operate on the right or at No10. His speed means he can be devastating in transitions and stretch games in a way other current Chelsea wide players do not.

It is the technique Mudryk has with to go with that blistering speed which led to the Neymar comparisons. He has the ability to unlock opposition defences, beating defenders by passing or dribbling, and will add a creative spark to a Chelsea attack that has scored just 22 goals in 19 Premier League games this season.

There is undoubted flair to his game, but Mudryk is also a workaholic who idolised Cristiano Ronaldo for his dedication to training. He has employed his own personal trainer, Dima Chapovskiy, for years. Together, they have worked on making Mudryk stronger, while at the same time increasing his pace. Not satisfied with his top speed, they believe he can hit close to 25mph.

The 22-year-old draws confidence from his training and often did extra sessions at Shakhtar. Their former manager, Roberto De Zerbi, was so shocked by his level of training that he once asked staff to tell the youngster to go home.

De Zerbi, who replaced Chelsea’s Potter as Brighton boss, was the first manager to really believe in Mudryk, and believes one day he can win the Ballon d’Or. That is a bold claim, particularly when you consider the clubs leading the chase to sign him last summer were Bayer Leverkusen and Brentford.

Bees manager Thomas Frank spoke to Mudryk, who then spent time studying how they play by watching clips on YouTube. He is a big fan of learning how teams set up tactically, and whenever an interested team spoke to him, he would go away and study their style.

That all became almost too much for Mudryk last summer, who admitted he was impacted by speculation around his future. But eventually he was able to knuckle down and those at Shakhtar were impressed with his attitude in his final six months at the club.

Mudryk has come a long way since starting his journey in the small Ukrainian city of Krasnohrad, which has a population of around 20,000. He has been preparing for a big move to England over the past few years and has been having one-on-one English lessons.

Is he worth the money Chelsea have paid for him? Shakhtar and recruitment experts in the game certainly think so, but we are about to find out. Mudryk has only eight caps for Ukraine and 13 Champions League appearances are all we really have to judge him at the top level. Behind Kylian Mbappe and Vinicius Junior, Shakhtar feel he is the best player in his position in Europe. A wide player who scores goals, Chelsea believe they have signed a star.

Mudryk is ready to put the work in and, fittingly, his latest tattoos sum him up best. Both are inked on his neck. One is of a blue butterfly and symbolises dedication and persistence, while the other simply reads: ‘Talent ain’t enough’, with the word talent crossed out, reinforcing his view that hard work, not natural skill, is the key to reaching the top.

His path to Chelsea suggests Mudryk will not let his big opportunity pass him by.