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Will Paulo Fonseca Raid Shakhtar Donetsk This Summer?

Roma may get some Ukrainian flavor once the summer mercato heats up.

Shakthar Donetsk v Manchester City: UEFA Youth Champions League Photo by Matt McNulty - Manchester City/Manchester City FC via Getty Images

With everyone cooped up inside and no football matches to watch, it’s no wonder that the rumor mill has been churning out a lot of news for the past couple weeks. Right now, though, I’m going to steer clear of some of the bigger, more Italian names that Roma’s been linked to, including Gaetano Castrovilli, Stephan El Shaarawy, and Giacomo Bonaventura. Instead, I’m going to bring up a name that fits in with the profile of a particular type of buy more secure managers get to make: the familiar face from a previous club. The name connected to Roma isn’t one of Shakhtar’s Brazilian imports, however; it’s a home-grown Ukrainian.

Mykhailo Mudryk, or Мудрик Михайло Петрович for you Ukrainian-speakers out there, is the first player born in this millennium to play for Shakhtar Donetsk. Mudryk primarily plays on the left wing for Shakhtar, but he has enough comfort with both feet to work successfully on the left, the right, or even in a central role. After looking over what little video there is of Mudryk, I’d say that Mudryk could be compared to a younger Diego Perotti with more pace. He’s not inclined to score as much as assist, which could be the perfect counter-balance in attack to Nicolo Zaniolo and Edin Džeko’s long-term replacement, whoever that may be.

Admittedly, Mudryk hasn’t had much of a chance to light up the Ukrainian Premier League just yet given his age and the COVID-19 outbreak. Despite that, it should be noted that Paulo Fonseca showed interest in helping the Ukrainian U-21 player develop while he was managing Shakhtar. Roma’s current manager brought Mudryk into first team training, gave him his first cup appearance, and started him for the first time in a friendly.

Other than youthful inexperience, it should be noted that even Paulo Fonseca noted one of Mudryk’s flaws following the winger’s goal-scoring debut for Shakhtar: his attitude. After that first start versus Qarabag (remember them?), Fonseca said:

Mykhailo scored today, but he still has a lot to learn. He could have scored even more than one goal, and he must understand how he can improve. I am definitely convinced by his talent, but first of all, he must understand that he still has a lot of ways he can improve. He still doesn’t know everything If he wants to become a great player, so he has to change his attitude a bit on the pitch.

It’s not entirely surprising that a seventeen-year-old starlet might have attitude issues. Mudryk has apparently already become a bit of a celebrity in Ukraine, appearing on a talent show for Ukrainian kids and racking up a decent number of Instagram followers. Despite all that, the idea that Fonseca wants to bring him to Rome hints that the Portuguese manager thinks he’s the man to lead the winger on the right path.

The rumor mill says that Fonseca has done a decent job of convincing Gianluca Petrachi that bringing in Mudryk would be a good idea. Considering that Mudryk’s price-tag might be as low as €2 million, this seems like the perfect low-risk, high-reward player for Roma to be chasing right now given the uncertain nature of, well, nearly everything related to Roma.