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    Arsenal close to landing Mykhaylo Mudryk from Shakhtar in £80m deal

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    Arsenal are closing in on a deal to sign Mykhaylo Mudryk from Shakhtar Donetsk for an eventual fee of up to £80m, meaning their long pursuit of the player is on the verge of a successful conclusion.

    Mudryk has been Mikel Arteta’s top winter target but negotiations with the Ukrainian champions, who drive a notoriously hard bargain, have not been straightforward. Nor are they complete, with the nature of add-ons and terms of payment understood to be the biggest remaining sticking points, but the sides are within touching distance of a final fee.

    It is likely Arsenal will get their man before the transfer window ends. They would pay an up-front sum of more than £50m for the 22-year-old forward, who has become one of Europe’s most sought-after players over the past year. Brentford were willing to break their transfer record to sign him last summer but could not reach an agreement and his performances for Shakhtar in the Champions League during the autumn pushed his value well out of their reach.

    Shakhtar’s stance has hardened further because they are in a three-way fight with Dnipro-1 and Dynamo Kyiv to win Ukraine’s Premier League and are aware of Mudryk’s value as a player who can help regain their place at Europe’s lucrative top table. But Arsenal’s persistence is close to paying off and Mudryk, who has made no secret of his desire for the move, would add significant competition across Arteta’s front line. Chelsea have shown interest in Mudryk but the player’s wish to join Arsenal has been an inhibiting factor.

    Speaking on Friday, Arteta was characteristically tight-lipped about the prospect of imminent additions. “There is some interest in things we’d like to do to improve the team, because we are a bit short in certain areas,” he said.

    The Premier League leaders will certainly not have Mudryk in their ranks for Sunday’s derby against Spurs, even if negotiations are completed quickly. Arsenal hope to at least preserve their five-point lead at the top with a first win at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium and Arteta said his players were “in a different place” from the costly 3-0 defeat in April that had seismic implications for both teams’ Champions League prospects.

    Arteta should be able to select Emile Smith Rowe in a Premier League squad for the first time since 4 September. Smith Rowe returned from injury as a substitute in Monday’s FA Cup win at Oxford and reported no issues. Bukayo Saka is also fit for selection despite appearing to hobble off during the second half of that tie.

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