Mudryk shirt number hints Chelsea career could go one of two ways
Chelsea vs Crystal Palace in pictures
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Mykhaylo Mudryk will be hoping to live up to his billing as the next biggest thing in European football after officially joining Chelsea from Shakhtar Donetsk on Sunday. The Ukraine international winger arrived at Stamford Bridge in exchange for a transfer fee in the region of £88million and was paraded to his new fans at half-time during Chelsea’s home match against Crystal Palace.
Mudryk has put pen to paper on a lucrative seven-year contract in west London, while Chelsea retain the option to extend his stay by an additional year at the end of his deal. He has also been handed the No 15 shirt by the Blues, although it remains to be seen whether he will follow in the footsteps of some of its previous bearers over the course of his spell at the club.
A variety of players have worn the No 15 on their backs at Chelsea in recent years but many have failed to live up to expectations and Mudryk will be desperate to avoid taking a similar path. The last player to wear the number was Kurt Zouma, who managed to stay in and around the first team for several years without setting the world alight before eventually joining West Ham in 2021.
Kevin de Bruyne also wore the No 15 and was unable to prove himself with the Blues before he was shipped off to Wolfsburg, although he has since gone on to have a remarkable career with Manchester City. Mohamed Salah found himself in a similar situation after joining Chelsea from Basel, with the Egyptian winger being widely branded as a flop before emerging as one of the world’s best players with Roma and then Liverpool.
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The likes of Papy Djilobodji and Victor Moses have also donned the No 15 and were largely unremarkable performers for Chelsea, although the latter enjoyed a successful spell at right wing-back under the guidance of Antonio Conte as the Blues lifted their most recent Premier League title in 2017.
However, the number was also used by Chelsea icon Didier Drogba between 2004 and 2006 before the Ivorian forward made the switch to his trademark No 11. Mudryk will be hoping that his spell in west London pans out similarly to that of Drogba, who is now up there with Frank Lampard and John Terry as one of the club’s biggest legends, although the number of so-called flops to have worn the No 15 in the past suggests that the 22-year-old’s career at Stamford Bridge could go either way.
Mudryk insisted that he was delighted to have joined the Blues after his capture was officially announced on Saturday, telling the club website: “This is a huge club, in a fantastic league and it is a very attractive project for me at this stage of my career. I’m excited to meet my new team-mates and I’m looking forward to working and learning under Graham Potter and his staff.”
Chelsea co-owners Todd Boehly and Behdad Eghbali added: “We are delighted to welcome Mykhaylo to Chelsea. He’s a hugely exciting talent who we believe will be a terrific addition to our squad both now and in the years to come. He will add further depth to our attack and we know he’ll get a very warm welcome to London.”
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