The never ending Alexis Sanchez transfer saga is finally over, and we can now get back to football. Overshadowed in the Sanchez switch to Manchester United is the fact that Arsenal have signed a pretty good player themselves in Henrikh Mkhitaryan.
The Armenian was deemed surplus to requirements by Jose Mourinho and had received limited playing time so far this season. He has basically been treated like an outcast.
The truth is that Mkhitaryan didn’t go from being named the Bundesliga Players’ Player of the Season in 2016 to disposable overnight. The reason his career got off track over the past 18 months is he probably signed for the wrong team and the wrong manager.
Under Thomas Tuchel at Borussia Dortmund, Mkhitaryan was a major part of a squad that played attacking football. Under Mourinho, things were different. We all know that Jose is the master of sitting back and parking the bus. This, to be charitable, is not a system that gave Mkhitaryan the chance to shine.
If it sounds like I’m picking on Mourinho, I suppose you’re right. However, he has a pretty good track record of getting rid of players he doesn’t like, only to see them sign with other clubs and thrive.
Take Manchester City’s Kevin De Bruyne for example. A possible Premier League Player of the Season candidate, De Bruyne was sold by Mourinho when both were at Chelsea. At the time, the “special one” claimed that De Bruyne was “crying every day he wants to leave” and unmotivated.
Then there’s another player of the year candidate, Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah. The Egyptian winger was a Chelsea player under Mourinho as well. He was not a part of the manager’s plans and was loaned out to Fiorentina and then Roma. He eventually sealed a permanent move to Roma and transferred to Liverpool last summer.
The list of Mourinho rejects includes his current players Romelu Lukaku and Juan Mata and Chelsea’s Victor Moses.
Mkhitaryan’s style of play is more suited to Arsenal’s attack oriented set up. Another positive is the fact that Sven Mislintat, formerly of Dortmund, is now doing recruitment for the Gunners. Also, it’s looking pretty good that he will be joined in London by his former Dortmund teammate Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
Time will tell if Mkhitaryan can recapture his previous form. However, a change in scenery and an injection of confidence could just be what he needs to re-establish himself.