Pochettino admits Chelsea's fatal flaw with Mudryk comments

Robin Bairner
Robin Bairner
  • 2 Oct 2023 08:02 BST
  • 4 min read
Mauricio Pochettino, Mykhailo Mudryk, Chelsea, 2023/24
© ProShots

Chelsea manager Mauricio Pochettino admitted on Sunday that he is willing to be patient to see the best version of winger Mykhailo Mudryk, but by the same token undermined the Blues’ whole transfer policy.

Pochettino explained that Mudryk is a “unique” talent but also deserves patience to discover his best level, listing off a screed of legitimate reasons why the 22-year-old has struggled to find his feet in the Premier League after a €70 million transfer from Shakhtar Donetsk last January.

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The Ukraine international attacker is still waiting on his first Chelsea goal more than nine months after arriving at the club and has struggled to find space in the starting XI this season in a Blues team that has been hit by injuries and has struggled badly in the Premier League once again.

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Speaking passionately in defence of Mudryk, Pochettino said: “You pay big money, but there’s a big change from where they came. Also it’s not about arriving and performing when you are young.

“It’s about adapting, it’s about helping them to settle. Then the most difficult thing is to understand what these guys need to settle and to feel comfortable and to express their talent.

“If you ask me about Misha, he’s a very talented player of course, but you need to go with him very slowly.

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Mudryk is waiting on his first Chelsea goal
© ProShots - Mudryk is waiting on his first Chelsea goal

“He’s now trying to be more open, to adapt and be more involved in every situation, not only on the field but outside also. I think he’s making a massive effort to try to integrate himself and to understand better what it means to play like a team.

“He’s unique. I can’t find a player to say he is similar to; I can’t remember one. It’s a good challenge for him, and it’s a good challenge for us.”

Chelsea’s transfer logic fails

All this, of course, is true. But it also raises questions as to why Chelsea thought it was the smart thing to do to pay an initial fee of €70m for a player who had featured only 44 times at senior level in an understrength Ukrainian league.

Sure, there had been some glimpses of talent in the Champions League, but there was also the glaring open goal miss against Celtic, which has foreshadowed his form at Stamford Bridge.

Mykhailo Mudryk
© ProShots - Mykhailo Mudryk

Indeed, it’s not that Chelsea have bought Mudryk, it’s that they appear unsuited and ill-prepared to get the best from him, particularly at the price point they paid. Equally, from Pochettino’s comments, the player himself was not braced for Premier League life.

Why, then, pay one of the biggest transfer fees of all time for a player who was always going to be a risk, particularly now that he is shackled to the club until 2031 with his lengthy contract?

Mudryk, of course, is simply a microcosm of the Blues’ problems. He is the most extreme example of their buy-young, invest-long transfer policy that failed to bear any fruit last season and threatens another difficult campaign under Pochettino, their third permanent manager in the space of 13 months.

Pochettino is right in that Mudryk needs time to adapt, but Chelsea must also do due diligence on the young players they are signing and understand that a big price tag comes with big expectations – the type of which is appears their Ukrainian marvel was never likely to live up to. At first, anyway.

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