Arsenal could face competition from Chelsea in the race for Shakhtar Donetsk winger Mykhailo Mudryk, Mikel Arteta’s top target this month.
Sources in Ukraine have told Telegraph Sport that Chelsea are exploring the possibility of making their own approach for Mudryk, despite Arsenal positioning themselves at the front of the queue to sign him.
Arsenal have been locked in negotiations with Shakhtar and are hoping to agree a deal in the coming days, having had one formal bid rejected already.
Shakhtar have publicly valued Mudryk at £88 million, in response to deals taking Jack Grealish to Manchester City from Aston Villa and Antony to Manchester United from Ajax.
Arsenal’s first bid was worth up to around £55 million and there was a growing expectation within the game that a deal would eventually be agreed.
Chelsea’s potential move for the player could change that, however, or at the very least contribute to Mudryk’s price being driven upwards.
Any move from Chelsea would be a late one as, as of Monday afternoon, Arsenal were the only team in negotiations with Shakhtar.
Mudryk has made it clear that he wants to join Arsenal, and has even posted a series of social media messages suggesting as much.
The player’s own desire could prove pivotal to any tug-of-war, although it remains to be seen whether Chelsea will be encouraged to make a formal bid.
Mudryk is seen as one of Europe’s most exciting young forwards and was described last week as a potential Ballon d’Or winner by Roberto De Zerbi, his former manager.
“Mudryk is a fantastic player, but Brighton can’t buy him,” said De Zerbi. “I like him, because I like all my ex-players.
But I am the Brighton coach and Brighton can’t buy him. Arsenal, I don’t know.“I think Mudryk can win the Ballon d’Or in the future. Really. I know the value of Mudryk, he has the potential to win the Ballon d’Or.”