In a remarkably candid interview with The Athletic’s Adam Crafton, Shakhtar Donetsk CEO Sergei Palkin has given a detailed explanation of how and why they chose to do business with Chelsea and why they believe they are not only coming out ahead in the deal, but how Chelsea’s seriousness helped secure the agreement.
If you have a subscription, the full interview is certainly well worth your read, but this publicly available tweet from The Athletic highlights the key points.
“Overall, it was the same [offer]. 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.
“Different time (schedule) of the payments, different kinds of bonuses. Yes, we can talk about bonuses, but these bonuses should be somehow achievable and realistic, let’s say. Therefore, in this case, Chelsea was much more serious and fair in some points.
“When we met Chelsea, we stayed all together. For you to understand the context, it was for nine or 10 hours. They invited the player and explained to us the whole project. We realised that, yes, if you look right now, Chelsea have some kinds of problems but it is normal because they have a transition period from one owner to another. It is understandable. They would like to change a lot.
“So when they explain to you the whole story and you look for the next two, three, four, five years, then you see they have a serious project. I believe they will build one of the best clubs in the world because I am telling you, they are very serious in all directions: sports science, the stadium side, the commercial side, on all things. For us, they looked very ambitious.”
-Sergei Palkin; source: The Athletic
I think this guy might be our biggest cheerleader!
Exclusive: Shakhtar CEO Sergei Palkin on why Mykhailo Mudryk joined Chelsea over Arsenal— The Athletic | Football (@TheAthleticFC) January 17, 2023
▪️ "I met Arsenal more times than Chelsea"
▪️ "Arsenal contacted Mudryk before us"
▪️ "Fee #CFC offered was the same as #AFC"
▪️ "Schedule of payments & bonuses were better"@AdamCrafton_
Palkin illustrates the achievability of the add-ons by revealing that it does not include pie-in-the-sky stuff like the Ballon d’Or, and that they are valid for the duration of the contract, which he confirms as 7.5 years plus the one-year club-option. Palkin adds that they had “almost agreed” but then had second thoughts and started souring on Arsenal’s offer even before Chelsea came in, but our seriousness helped them push the proverbial button. Mudryk himself was not pushing to leave, and had acted as professionally as expected.
Speaking of professionalism, Palkin claims that Arsenal had contacted the player well before they ever talked to the club, which didn’t sit well with the hierarchy, for obvious reasons (and also gave the impression that Arsenal were the only option). Chelsea asked for permission, as one should, before first contacting the player “around the end of December or the start of January”.
The CEO also confirms that a friendly in Donetsk between the two clubs will be held as soon as geopolitically possible. That idea apparently came from Chelsea co-owner Behdad Eghbali. But the rumored $25m donated to war relief efforts in Mariupol is from the Shakhtar president Rinat Akhmetov himself however, and not (directly) related to this transfer.
Now, obviously, this is Palkin’s retelling of these events, and I’m sure Arsenal wouldn’t necessarily co-sign everything he’s claimed. But there’s also little reason to believe that he’s not telling the truth as he knows it. Their club would’ve come out looking good either way.
And we can only hope that the impression that we’ve given him of our ambitions and plans for the future lead to such glorious outcomes indeed, and with Mudryk front and center.