Even as Manchester United’s summer signings go, Henrikh Mkhitaryan has had a rather odd start to life at Old Trafford.
Red Devils fans greeted the acquisition of the former Bundesliga Player of the Year with huge excitement, having seen him score 23 goals and assist a further 32 last season for Borussia Dortmund.
For BVB, he was a huge loss, especially at the relatively low price of £26.3million. United have failed to make the most of that bargain, however, with Jose Mourinho confining him to the bench – at best.
In the weekend’s 1-1 draw with Arsenal, the Armenian was left out of the squad altogether.
That only served to raise even more questions about his future in the north-west, with Mourinho now explaining why he didn’t think he could trust him against the Gunners.
“I told him, ‘This [Arsenal] was not the game for you, I don’t think you need 10 or 20 minutes from the bench, I think you need a good game and you need to either start or if not to come (on) for the second half’,” Mourinho said, via the Telegraph.
“He needs less pressure and better conditions for him to express his qualities.”
It all dates back to the Manchester derby on September 10, a game United lost 2-1 – thanks largely to defensive errors and the brilliance of Kevin de Bruyne, not through any fault of Mkhitaryan’s.
Nonetheless, that was the last league game the playmaker started, and he was taken off because Mourinho thought the occasion had got to him – though being played out of position so an ailing Wayne Rooney could occupy his favoured spot probably didn’t help.
The Telegraph also have it that Dortmund officials half-expected his demise, as they felt he often failed to make an impact in the big games.
If that’s the case, then United should have done their homework on his mentality before bringing him in. It’s likely that with Rooney playing less, Mourinho will dip into the transfer window again in the summer for another number 10 – rumoured to be Atletico Madrid and France star Antoine Griezmann – and that could seal Mkhitaryan’s fate.