Man Utd transfers: Dortmund’s Henrikh Mkhitaryan joins Red Devils
Holly Thackeray | June 28, 2016
Manchester United have completed their third major signing of the summer, with the transfer of Borussia Dortmund playmaker Henrikh Mkhitaryan to Old Trafford for a reported fee of around £30m.
Dortmund used Twitter to announce the departure of the player, with Man Utd finally confirming the move a few days later. BVB chief executive Hans-Joachim Watzke stated: “Manchester [United] have made us an enormously valuable offer. Had we rejected it, the player would have been able to leave for free in 2017.”
— Borussia Dortmund (@BVB) July 2, 2016
In an official statement, the Red Devils later said: “Manchester United is delighted to announce that Henrikh Mkhitaryan has completed his transfer from Borussia Dortmund. Henrikh joins on a four-year contract with the option to extend for a further year.”
While, new manager Jose Mourinho chipped in, telling press: “Henrikh is a very talented footballer who has been in such prolific form for both his club and his country.
“He is a real team player with great skill, vision and also has a good eye for goal. I am delighted he has chosen to sign for United.”
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) July 6, 2016
Mkhitaryan also said of the transfer “I am very proud to join…this move is a dream come true for me. I am excited to play for a club with such an illustrious history and hope to be part of it for a long time.
“I believe playing for such a great club honours my father’s memory, and the inspiration and drive he gave to me when I was young.”
Armenia’s all-time top scorer then also took to social media to Tweet, stating: “So happy to join Man Utd, a club I always admired for its history and fans!”
— Henrikh Mkhitaryan (@HenrikhMkh) July 6, 2016
Mkhitaryan move shows Mourinho means business
The Armenia international becomes new Man Utd manager Jose Mourinho’s third signing of the summer after Villarreal and Ivory Coast centre back Eric Bailly arrived earlier in June, for a similar fee in the region of £30m. While, former Sweden and PSG superstar Zlatan Ibrahimovic joined as a free agent officially on Friday, July 1st.
Having splashed such significant sums so quickly to upgrade two areas of the pitch in defence and attack, Mourinho has moved quickly to get his business done before the lucrative summer tour to China and upcoming Charity Shield collision with Premier League champions Leicester City at Wembley.
Mkhitaryan, 27, made waves in Germany last season, scoring 23 times and laying on 32 assists in 52 appearances across all competitions for Dortmund. With talents of the same ilk costing a small fortune, the reason for the BVB attacker’s more reasonable price tag is due to the player having just one more year to run on his contract.
Still, the Red Devils (9/2 chances with Coral to win the Premier League) seem to have held out hoping for a better bargain, amid reports their haggling began as low as £19m, with the German giants playing hardball.
Adaptable Armenian Mkhitaryan, also an apparent target for Arsenal, cost around £23m for the Bundesliga club to capture from Shakhtar Donetsk in 2013, and he will be expected to make an instant impact and become a key figure in Mourinho’s Red Devils revolution.
The ‘Special One’ could also see the wheels greased for future arrivals from super agent Mino Raiola’s ranks, with purported Old Trafford transfer target Paul Pogba on the powerful Dutchman’s books.
Does Mkhitaryan mean Juan exit a Mata of time?
A versatile talent, the acquisition of a key attacking player in Mkhitaryan has raised questions as to how Mourinho’s squad will take shape and whether there could be any casualties headed to door due to this deal.
Expected to play on the right wing or on the same flank but as part of a fluid forward three, a position in which he was deployed for most of last term under Thomas Tuchel, majestic Mkhitaryan can also be stationed on the left or centrally behind a striker.
Though, the Eurasian star schemer, born in Yerevan, has even played a deeper role in the past when called upon. Seven goals and 12 assists from the right in the Bundesliga last season suggests that is where the now former Dortmund dangerman should start, meaning Spain plotter Juan Mata could be the man to miss out.
The right attacking flank posed problems for departed gaffer Louis van Gaal, with Mata often effective when drifting in, but poor at bringing width, dynamism or the ability to beat a man out wide.
This all made Man Utd rather one-dimensional when breaking down determined defences, while FA Cup goal hero and Red Devils academy graduate Jesse Lingard has been diligent but not always incisive, with a little extra star quality sometimes required.
Named Armenian Footballer of the Year five times, Ukrainian Premier League Top Scorer for 2013, Bundesliga Assist Leader 2016 and also selected in the German top flight’s Team of the Season 2016, Mkhitaryan should certainly provide more magic.
Lingard’s similar flexibility and hard graft should see favour curried with new coach Mourinho, but Mata has previous after being flogged by the ‘Special One’ to United in the pair’s time at Chelsea.
While, Adnan Januzaj, also a more creative and playmaking wideman than a speed merchant, may too be worried for his chances of game time after the arrival of his former Dortmund teammate.
Dortmund depletion continues
The Red Devils’ raid on Dortmund is great news for Premier League fans, with another attacking maestro set to entertain on English shores.
Yet, Bundesliga watchers could be forgiven for feeling blue, and BVB support in particular, as they see yet another star turn and productive player head off this summer.
Big names such as Robert Lewandowski, Shinji Kagawa and Mario Gotze are just some of the departures over recent years but, this off-season alone, Tuchel has seen key cogs Ilkay Gundogan and Mats Hummels prised from his grasp.
With rumours surrounding defender Neven Subotic and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s futures, fans will be hoping there is significant reinvestment to come and no more exits, lest they truly be tagged a selling club. Having finished second in the Bundesliga amid excellent attacking play, the exodus is a quite surprising trend.
Though, Mkhitaryan must be careful, as the likes of Kagawa, Gotze and Nuri Sahin have shown it can be tough to transition to bigger clubs or different leagues while keeping up those performance levels.
There are question marks over the mentality of Man Utd’s newest signing, with a winning determination and ability to stand up in the big moments something Mourinho demands from all this men. One thing the Armenian does have in spades though, is willingness to put in a shift.
Only time will tell if exciting signing Mkhitaryan can match those expectations and be considered a coup, and it will certainly be an interesting test of the right-footed trickster’s true ability.