Mudryk can give Arsenal the variety they crave

    Another hurry-up came during Arsenal’s 3-1 win, when news broke of Liverpool having agreed an initial £37 million deal for Cody Gakpo, the PSV and Holland forward.With the addition of Gakpo, 23, Liverpool would have seven senior attacking players who can play in several positions, the same as Manchester City. Tottenham Hotspur have six, while Arsenal have five and have been searching for a winger since the summer, when they missed out on Raphinha and Pedro Neto.Arsenal still have work to do to get Mudryk’s signing over the line, and may have to increase their initial offer of £45 million if Shakhtar Donetsk continue to demand a fee closer to £80 million. Handy, then, for Mikel Arteta that the club’s American owner, Stan Kroenke, was at Emirates Stadium on Monday night, where a glance at the match-day squad would have highlighted the lack of depth in attack.Arteta’s side were patient in coming from a goal behind against West Ham but had they faced a more stubborn opponent, there were few options to change the game from the bench.Up front, Gabriel Martinelli, Bukayo Saka and Gabriel Jesus, who is absent with a knee injury, have been on the pitch for more than 94 per cent of league matches they have played this season. That is one of several statistics that show how reliant Arsenal – who moved seven points clear at the top of the table with the win over West Ham – are on a small core of attacking talent and why they are looking for fresher legs to sustain a title challenge.This season, Arteta has started seven players in every match – more than any other Premier League manager – made the second-fewest changes to the starting XI and handed the fewest total minutes to his substitutes.The arrival of the right-footed Mudryk would add another option and bring a different dimension to Arsenal’s attack. One probable attraction for Arteta is using Mudryk’s blistering speed on the counter-attack or when Arsenal are building between the lines.Mudryk, who has 12 goals and 17 assists in 44 games for Shakhtar, can play on either flank but he prefers to either cut inside from the left or make darting runs inside the full back, where his speed would allow him to collect slide-rule passes from Martin Odegaard or Granit Xhaka. At Shakhtar, he has used the overlapping runs of the left back, Bogdan Mykhaylichenko, to draw away defenders.“It is more comfortable for me when I play on the line where I can show all my potential one against one,” Mudryk said of his best position recently. “I have more space to move to the front and I can create a lot more chances when I play on the line.”Should Mudryk join Arsenal, Arteta has seemed to play down the idea that Martinelli could move centrally in the absence of Jesus, who could be out until early February. “To score more goals Martinelli needs to play wide because it’s his quality,” Arteta said last week.Arteta played a strong part in Raheem Sterling’s development and increased contributions as a winger at City and has done a good job in drawing greater output from Martinelli and Saka. The Brazil forward has six goals and two assists, while the outstanding Saka has five goals and six assists in the league this season.Mudryk is raw and would need to toughen up, but he fits in with Arteta’s model of signing young players. This time last year he tried and failed to sign Dusan Vlahovic, 22, one of the hottest young strikers in Europe, who preferred to join Juventus – in part because they had better chances of playing in the Champions League. A year on, and Arsenal have more to offer for Europe’s latest coveted youngster.– The Times

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