EPL

Chelsea must invest time in 'world's most unique player' Mudryk, says Shakhtar CEO

By Sports Desk February 27, 2024

Mykhailo Mudryk is "the most talented and unique player in the world", and patient work on the training ground will see Chelsea get the best out of the winger.

That is the view of Serhiy Palkin, Shakhtar Donetsk's chief executive who struck the £89million deal which took Mudryk from Ukraine to Stamford Bridge last January.

Like many of the big-money recruits of the Todd Boehly era, Mudryk has struggled for consistency since arriving in west London, after emerging as one of Europe's hottest prospects at Shakhtar.

Between the start of 2021-22 and his move to the Premier League, Mudryk averaged a goal involvement every 70 minutes in the Ukrainian top flight, scoring nine goals and adding 13 assists in just 23 appearances during that spell.

However, Mudryk has just three goals and four assists to his name in 34 Premier League appearances, and he attracted more criticism for an ineffective substitute appearance in Sunday's EFL Cup final defeat to Liverpool.

Palkin, however, remains convinced of the 23-year-old's talent and feels he simply needs close attention from Mauricio Pochettino and his backroom staff. 

"I can tell you that for me, Mudryk is the most talented and unique player in the world," Palkin told Stats Perform.

"I believe that in order to get from Mudryk the maximum, as they anticipate, you need to invest in him. These investments are not money. 

"It's time for the coaching staff to communicate with him and to work closely with him. He is a young boy, he changed from the Ukrainian Championship to the Premier League. 

"It's a completely different world, with completely different levels, completely different football. 

"Therefore, I believe that if the coaching staff dedicates him some time, he will return three, four, or five times more."

One former Shakhtar man who made a far more immediate impact in the Premier League is Roberto De Zerbi, who led Brighton and Hove Albion to Europa League qualification last term while implementing a daring style of play. 

The Seagulls are in the hunt for European qualification again this season, and they rank second in the Premier League for average passes per sequence (5.01), third for build-up attacks (127) and joint-first for high turnovers resulting in goals (seven).

After overseeing Brighton's dramatic rise, De Zerbi has been tipped to move on to pastures new, with both Barcelona and Liverpool suggested as possible landing spots for the Italian.

Palkin has no doubt De Zerbi is destined for the top, saying: "I can tell you that he did a lot for Brighton, he did brilliant work for Brighton. 

"I believe 100 per cent that he can jump into a top club tomorrow, even today, 100 per cent. The most important thing is he must accept the proposition.

"I believe he has a lot of propositions, including in Italian football and English football. Therefore, everything, everything, everything depends on him."

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    The Manchester City academy graduate, who joined the Blues last summer, scored a spectacular individual goal to open the scoring.

    Palmer scored a header and added a third when he capitalised on a Jordan Pickford error before converting a penalty in the second half. Nicolas Jackson and Alfie Gilchrist also got on the scoresheet as the Toffees came completely unstuck.

    It was Palmer’s second home triple in a row, following his three goals against Manchester United earlier this month.

    Palmer told Chelsea’s official website: “To make the decision to come to Chelsea was a big one for me and my family, but I just wanted to play football. I’m thankful to Chelsea for the opportunity and I’m buzzing.

    “We started well and to score a hat-trick, I’m buzzing. I think the team needed that after last Sunday and some previous games. We did well tonight. It was a great game for the team and me.”

    Palmer showed wonderful skill for his first goal after he jinked past Jarrad Branthwaite, receiving a flick-on from Jackson before he produced a first-time curled effort from outside the box into the bottom left-hand corner.

    The 21-year-old added: “I think my first one was my favourite.

    “My right-footed goal was a bit of a swinger, but my first one was probably my favourite. As an attacker, you always want to help the team with goals and assists, but my main focus was playing well and trying to get into the positions to score goals.”

    Manager Mauricio Pochettino heaped praise on Palmer, who is now joint top in the Premier League’s Golden Boot race with Erling Haaland on 20 goals each.

    He said: “I don’t judge the player when we sign (them) but I expected the best. It doesn’t surprise us, he’s a player who has had the capacity to score goals when he was playing at Manchester City. He has the capacity to score easily.

    “The way he’s adapted, playing and performing is fantastic. He behaves like a top scorer and I think it’s amazing for the team and him.”

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    Cole Palmer’s four-goal haul in Chelsea’s thumping 6-0 win over Everton at Stamford Bridge was overshadowed by what Mauricio Pochettino called “unacceptable” behaviour as two of his players were involved in a physical altercation over who should take a penalty.

    The home side were four goals up in the second half when Nicolas Jackson and Noni Madueke caused the unsavoury scene that left their manager feeling the need to apologise to fans watching the game around the world.

    Palmer, the club’s appointed penalty taker, finally took charge following intervention from the captain Conor Gallagher, recovering his composure to score his fourth of the game and move on to 20 Premier League goals for the season.

    “The players know, the club knows that Palmer is the penalty-taker,” said Pochettino, who was visibly agitated during his post-match duties.

    “I’m so, so upset about the situation. In every country people are watching the game and we cannot send this type of image.

    “I want to apologise to our fans. Discipline is the most important thing for the team. It’s a collective sport. I’m not going to accept this type of behaviour. I’m going to be very strong. I promise it’s not going to happen again.

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    In a debut season defined by individual excellence, the first half was superb, even by Palmer’s own exceptional standards.

    His first goal alone was worthy of winning a Premier League match, nutmegging Jarrad Branthwaite before playing a neat one-two with Jackson, then curling the ball left-footed beyond the dive of Jordan Pickford.

    His second was a poacher’s finish, reacting quickest to knock in the rebound after Jackson’s effort had been pushed out by the goalkeeper.

    Everton were falling apart, a collapse encapsulated by Pickford’s error, playing the ball straight to Palmer to punt the ball into an empty net from 45 yards.

    Jackson scored Chelsea’s fourth, hooking Marc Cucurella’s cross under control and guiding it home with a swing of the right boot.

    Then came the sight of Jackson and Madueke pushing and shoving over a penalty awarded in the 63rd minute.

    “We don’t talk about punishment,” said Pochettino. “It’s about learning. They are young guys. It was very good the reaction of Gallagher like a captain. But you cannot show that type of behaviour.

    “The discipline is going to be stronger. If they behave like kids, it’s impossible. You cannot behave like kids. It’s a shame, it’s an unacceptable thing. We don’t deserve to be talking about this.”

    At the end of an excellent display, academy graduate Alfie Gilchrist capped things off by firing home his first goal for the club in stoppage time.

    Everton boss Sean Dyche, whose side sit just two points clear of the relegation zone, reflected on a “horrid” night for his team.

    “It’s miles off where we want to be,” he said. “There’s no excuses for that. Miles off the mark, miles from where we’ve been.

    “The goals were alarmingly poor. It’s just simple tackling, reading and anticipating the game. The basics were out the window. A horrid night without a shadow of a doubt.”

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