STUCK IN THE MUD ARSENAL want Shakhtar Donetsk to set a more realistic asking price for transfer target Mykhailo Mudryk.
And they are pointing to Cody Gakpo’s move to Liverpool — for £37million rising to £45m — as a guideline.
Shakhtar Donetsk are playing hardball over Mykhailo Mudryk
Liverpool have completed a £45m deal for Cody Gakpo
Shakhtar have already rejected the Gunners’ offer of £35m, plus a further £17.5m in easily achievable add-ons.
The Ukrainian club have shown little sign of budging from their hefty £85m valuation of Mudryk.
But Arsenal believe that is an unreasonable price for a 21-year-old winger with little more than 18 months of Ukrainian league football under his belt.
They have noted that Liverpool are only paying PSV Eindhoven an initial £37m for Dutch star Gakpo, who arrived on Merseyside on Wednesday.
Arsenal have already bid more for Mudryk.
And it is not lost on the Prem leaders that Gakpo is two years older than Mudryk, has 100 more games, 50 more goals — plus was also a star at the World Cup.
Yet Shakhtar sporting director Darijo Srna continues to claim Mudryk is in the same bracket as Brazil forward Antony, who cost Manchester United £85.5m from Ajax in the summer.
And he even mentioned the £100m British-record fee which Manchester City paid for Jack Grealish.
Everton, Roma and Brentford all tried to sign Mudryk last summer but will NOT go beyond £30m.
And there have been no other offers to even rival the Gunners’ opening bid.
Mudryk has repeatedly spoken of his admiration for Arsenal in interviews.
But with the Ukrainian league shut down for a three-month winter break, Mudryk has been ordered to return for the start of training on January 9.
Arsenal are now hoping to reach a compromise agreement with Shakhtar and break the deadlock by offering a guaranteed £45m — plus as much as £15m in add-ons.
Boss Mikel Arteta is keen to get the player on board quickly, to allow him to rest Bukayo Saka and Gabriel Martinelli.
And owner Stan Kroenke is backing him with the financial resources.