Shakhtar Donetsk CEO Sergei Palkin has insisted that it was an ‘outside visual impression’ that Mykhaylo Mudryk was close to joining Arsenal prior to signing for Chelsea.
The Gunners had prioritised a move for the winger during the January transfer window, though had been reluctant to match Shakhtar’s up-front price tag – a stumbling block which the Blues took advantage of.
After a swift round of weekend negotiations, Mudryk was presented as a Chelsea player on Sunday, despite his very open preference to join Arsenal over the last month, regularly posting on social media about the Premier League leaders.
Speaking to The Athletic, Palkin revealed it was only on Saturday that he realised Mudryk would be heading to Stamford Bridge instead.
“I realised two days ago [Saturday] when Chelsea arrived here – the co-owner Behdad Eghbali and [director of global talent and transfers] Paul Winstanley. They came to Antalya in Turkey [where Shakhtar have been at a training camp],” he said.
“Before Chelsea arrived, I did not know they were close, because I communicated with Arsenal in the same way as I had with Chelsea. Even I can tell you more: I met Arsenal more times than Chelsea. Therefore, before this last meeting, Arsenal was close, or a little bit closer to this deal than Chelsea.
“If you don’t count telephone conversations, it was three times [he met with Arsenal].
“From my point of view, [the social media posts] is why everybody talked about Arsenal. It is because Arsenal contacted the player almost one and a half months before they contacted us. Can you imagine, for example, to have Mikel Arteta, Oleksandr Zinchenko and the sporting director calling you, to have Arsenal calling you almost every day, every two days, every three days? You can want or not want the move but you follow this kind of reception and contacts.
“If you talk about Chelsea, they called me at the end of December and asked if they can contact Mudryk because they are interested in him and want to talk with him. I said, ‘No problem, you can contact him’. The first time they contacted him was around the end of December or the start of January. They contacted the player and the agent of the player and they met the financial conditions.
“Therefore, why did many people around it have the impression that Mudryk was going to Arsenal? It is because Arsenal contacted him and then Mudryk started to watch some games of Arsenal. But negotiations are negotiations. When you didn’t close everything, when you did not [close] the last dot, then you cannot finish the deal. Therefore it was just an outside visual impression that Mudryk is close to Arsenal.”
Palkin added that despite reports stating otherwise, Arsenal’s total package was the same figure as Chelsea’s, but the issue was over how the fee would be paid.
“Overall, [their transfer offers were] the same. Not approximately the same – it was the same figure. The fixed part, variable part, bonuses. But if you look inside the fixed part and bonuses, it was completely different,” he added.