A sparkling cameo from Chelsea new boy Mykhailo Mudryk caused BT Sport trio Steven Gerrard, Joe Cole and Rio Ferdinand to go weak at the knees, and the latter revealed what surprised him most about the Ukraine ace.
Graham Potter signalled his intention to unleash £88m signing Mudryk on Liverpool during his press conference on Friday.
Mudryk has come off a winter break and as such, was reportedly lacking in match sharpness. That resulted in a cameo off the bench rather than a start at Anfield, though the Premier League’s newest hotshot did not disappoint when given the call.
Indeed, Mudryk displayed his ferocious pace straight away when flying past James Milner in the 0-0 draw. All Milner could do to prevent Mudryk sprinting past and haring down on goal was foul him to the tune of a yellow card.
Mudryk also displayed magnificent close control when dancing past a pair of would-be challenges inside the Reds area. All that lacked was the finish, with Mudryk firing into the side netting after leaving a trail of defenders in his wake.
Mudryk also showed composure and vision when opting for more adventurous, defence-splitting passes when picked out in the final third. All in all, it was a massively encouraging cameo from the man who could so easily have found himself at Arsenal.
Steven Gerrard, Rio Ferdinand and Joe Cole were on duty in the BT Sport studio. All three Premier League greats were wowed by Mudryk, with Gerrard taking the lead.
Gerrard compares Mudryk to Dutch great Arjen Robben
“I’d be extremely excited if I was a Chelsea fan about the new man Mudryk,” said the Liverpool legend.
“I thought that was a very strong cameo and if he’s not [fully] fit and there’s still more to come in that department, then he looks the real deal.
“Some of his clips today were outstanding. He reminded me a little bit of Arjen Robben.
“His footwork, how quick he is, how he manipulated the ball… I’d be very excited if I was Chelsea.”
Mudryk, Felix can “hurt teams” – Cole
Fellow pundit and ex-Chelsea attacker Cole added: “He threatened Liverpool.
“When you can do things like this in the final third, forget the tactics, forget what system you play, when you’ve got a player that can run away from someone… he’s also a goal threat.
“Chelsea have now got two players, including Joao Felix who have come in and can hurt teams.
“He’s making chances, he’s affecting the game. When you’ve got a player like that in your ranks it lifts the crowd. It’s a reason to be positive.
“He had a 35-minute cameo that really excited me.”
Finally, it was Ferdinand’s turn to wax lyrical about the Chelsea new bow.
Ferdinand surprised by Mudryk technical ability
“We’ve all seen clips and explosive pace, but I saw soft feet as well,” added Ferdinand. “Someone who’s got a good weight of pass, good decision-making in the final third, the calmness running at speed.
“Those elements make it frightening for a full-back when he gets into full flow.
“This is only his first minutes in probably a month or so. Who knows what he’s going to be producing after this but it’s an exciting moment for Chelsea fans.
“I’m sure there’ll be Arsenal fans sitting there and thinking ‘Oh my days how did we let that one go?'”
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