Graham Potter explains his plans on Mykhailo Mudryk as he delivers honest Kai Havertz verdict
Graham Potter describes the strategy involving Mykhailo Mudryk for Chelsea and gives his candid assessment of Kai Havertz’s performance. Mykhailo Mudryk has not participated in the last two games for Chelsea and has only begun three matches since moving from Shakhtar Donetsk in January.
Graham Potter is optimistic that Mykhailo Mudryk will use his recent absence from Chelsea’s starting lineup to his advantage, acknowledging that it was always going to be a challenge for the Ukrainian player to perform at his highest level right after joining the team in the winter transfer window from Shakhtar Donetsk. Mudryk caught the attention of several clubs across Europe, including Arsenal, after impressing in the Champions League group stage. Despite the Gunners being the frontrunners for his signature, Chelsea’s co-owner Behdad Eghbali made a late push to secure Mudryk’s services.
Together with co-sporting director Paul Winstanley, Behdad Eghbali traveled to Turkey to negotiate with Shakhtar, and Mykhailo Mudryk’s transfer to Chelsea was completed within two days. Mudryk made a good impression in his first appearance as a substitute against Liverpool, and then he started in the following matches against Fulham, West Ham, and Borussia Dortmund.
Mykhailo Mudryk came on as a substitute during the losses to Southampton and Tottenham Hotspur, but he did not play in the victory against Leeds United and the second leg win against Dortmund on Tuesday. This has led some to question Graham Potter’s decision to use Mudryk. Nonetheless, the Chelsea head coach is convinced that Mudryk has a promising future at the club, and he acknowledges that new signings require a period of adaptation.
“Of course, every player wants to play and it’s important that players play to improve, I think that’s a fact,” Potter explained. “But at the same time, it’s not a straight road, it’s not just a play and everything happens in a linear way. Sometimes you have to take a step away. Sometimes you just need a bit of training time. Sometimes you need a breather. So there are a lot of factors.
“Hopefully, he can benefit from the time he’s had. And again, it’s not easy for him to just arrive in the middle of what was pre-season for him and to come into a new country, new club, new league, and just hit his absolute maximum level. It is regardless of the fee; I know people will look at the fee but it doesn’t change the situation he is in.
“We’re positive about him. We’re positive about the future for him. But we need just to help them settle and help him understand what he needs to do to help us.”
Criticism has been directed towards Chelsea’s attacking players in recent months, especially Kai Havertz, who has been consistently used as the primary striker instead of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and David Datro Fofana. However, Havertz delivered a standout performance in the match against Dortmund. He scored Chelsea’s second goal with a second-half penalty that had to be retaken, and he posed a constant threat to the visiting team’s defense with his dynamic movement and skillful ball handling.
“I have no doubt about Kai,” Potter replied when asked if Havertz can become a consistent goalscorer for Chelsea. “He’s a top player, delivers in the big moments, gives his best for the team all the time, and runs himself into the ground.
“He probably benefited from playing a slightly different position [against Dortmund] but whenever you ask him to do he does his best. That’s a great starting point. He’s still young and he’s got all the attributes to be a top player, score goals, assists, help the team. He can be an all-around fantastic attacking player.”