With Liverpool having made a stuttering start to 2022/23, there has been much debate over what has been the root cause of their issues. The loss of Sadio Mane to Bayern Munich has been one possible suggestion, and the absence of a player who averaged 20 goals a season over six years was always likely to come at a cost.
Yet the Senegalese international traditionally featured on the left of the Reds’ front three, the position from where Luis Diaz has arguably been the club’s best player so far this season. However, his strong form does raise a pertinent question: who replaces him when he is unavailable?
Diogo Jota and Darwin Nunez both have experience in that position but are more effective centrally. While most fans and pundits would agree that signing new players for midfield should be Liverpool’s priority, another pacy attacker for the attack wouldn’t go amiss. The Reds are said to be interested in one who is making waves across the continent.
Calciomercato have reported that Liverpool may be looking to make a move for Shakhtar Donetsk winger Mykhailo Mudryk. The 21-year-old was largely unknown prior to this season yet is taking European football by storm and has already been likened to Neymar.
Such comparisons can do more harm than good at times ( just ask Bruno Cheyrou ). However, the stats from the first two match weeks of the 2022/23 Champions League back up this notion. Per The Analyst, Mudryk and Neymar are the only players who have both scored a goal and set one up following a carry (which is where a player moves the ball a minimum of five metres).
Anyone who saw the Ukrainian international’s key moments from his side’s 4-1 win over RB Leipzig and 1-1 draw with Celtic will know that he is an excellent dribbler, fast on the break and with great ball control. Even though Mudryk has only made 31 appearances for Shakhtar, his stats suggest he has already outgrown their league.
While the Reds are rarely afforded the kind of space in which he profited in his recent Champions League games, you could easily picture Mudryk scoring the goals he did in a Liverpool shirt. Against Celtic, he was played in by a through ball from left-centre midfielder Heorhii Sudakov, with a pass which had more than a hint of Thiago Alcantara about it.
The young winger was even more impressive against Leipzig, scoring and collecting a pair of assists. His goal was the only one of Shakhtar’s officially classified as a counter attack, but he demonstrated devastating pace and movement for all three of his direct contributions to the remarkable result.
Mudryk appears to have the work rate required to prosper in a Jurgen Klopp team too. As Shakhtar recorded the sixth lowest possession average across the first two Champions League matches, their players would inevitably record higher defensive figures than players at Liverpool. Nonetheless, the supposed Reds target was his side’s top player for pressures against Leipzig ( per FBRef ) and remains second overall after the Celtic draw.
With the impact he has made, it is no surprise that other clubs are rumoured to be looking to sign Mudryk. Everton had a €30million bid turned down in the summer, and Arsenal and Newcastle have been mentioned as interested more recently too. As he is under contract for another four years, Shakhtar can take their time developing his talent unless an enormous offer lands on their table.
Mudryk is a young man in high demand, though, and the interest level in him will only head in one direction from here. While he must sustain his impressive form far longer to fully justify the Neymar comparison, it’s not looking an absurd suggestion at this point.