Many Manchester United fans were ecstatic when the club had agreed a deal to sign Armenian playmaker Henrikh Mkhitaryan from Borussia Dortmund, having had a stellar season with BVB, notching up an incredible 23 goals and 32 assists in just 52 games.
This would be his best and last season with the German outfit, as Jose Mourinho ensured he was 1 of 4 signings being made in this summer for a measly £26 million. Fans of the club were expecting Mkhitaryan to hit the ground running and take the Premier League by storm when arriving at the club but it ended up being a very anticlimactic season with the midfielder.
Mkhitaryan didn’t really make the team at the start of the season and it seemed that Mourinho didn’t fancy the midfield maestro and looked like he was going to be a potential flop at the club. Soon enough United’s number 22 starting to make the team and repaid the managers faith with very good performances, especially when played in the Europa League, scoring 6 goals, one in the final.
When summing up the Armenian’s first season in one word – inconsistent would come to mind. Having been in and out of the team, being the star of the show one week to an under-performer the next, the playmaker’s whole season was just inconsistent. This season could be different, however. Mkhitaryan could be the key to Manchester United performing well in the Champions League and he could be the man to catalyse a much overdue title challenge.
The midfielder could be the club’s chief creator this season with a number of factors contributing to that. One of the main ones being that he may be finally adapted to the Premier League. A lot of players coming from abroad seem to struggle in their first season with their respective clubs. If Mkhitaryan were to be more adapted to the league, he could shine and make his mark on the team. Hopefully replicating to, some extent, his last season at Dortmund.
Mkhitaryan had a similar problem at Dortmund, the pressure of joining a big club impacted him massively, resulting in poor performances for most of the season but the Armenian soon showed the performances he can bring to the team, becoming a crucial player for BVB for the seasons ahead.
It was very evident last season that Mkhitaryan flourished more in his preferred position, in the #10 position, behind the striker. The playmaker is very versatile, this resulted in Mourinho playing him on the right, where he played for Dortmund, on the left as well as in the middle, his preferred position. In pre-season so far, Mkhitaryan has been playing behind the striker and has looked razor sharp, scoring two as well constantly setting up his team mates. Yes, this is only pre-season but it could be a sign of things to come.
Lastly, a change of personnel at striker could play a ginormous factor in Manchester United’s title and European chances this season. With the signing of Romelu Lukaku from Everton for a reported £75 million, United could excel greatly. Zlatan Ibrahimovic was hot and cold last season, although he ended the season abruptly with 28 goals in all competitions. You wouldn’t
You wouldn’t believe the Swede would be branded as ‘hot and cold’ by the fans with United’s former number nine scoring 28 goals at the age of 35 but Zlatan was very wasteful in front of goals, missing an astonishing 18 “big chances”, chances that a world class striker like Ibrahimovic should be scoring. The biggest difference between Zlatan and Lukaku is that Lukaku is much more mobile, which will help Mkhitaryan and the team.
Mkhitaryan played with alongside a great attack at Dortmund with players such as Marco Reus, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Jakub Błaszczykowski who are players with great attacking intent, plenty of pace to burn and always make great runs for Mkhitaryan to find the pass with. With Manchester United building their own pacey attack with Romelu Lukaku leading the line, Anthony Martial, who will hopefully be playing and on form as well as Marcus Rashford or Jesse Lingard.
With playmakers, it is always said that you’re only as good as the movement in front of you, and Mkhitaryan will have plenty this season.