Analysing Henrikh Mkhitaryan's potential impact at Manchester United
Henrikh Mkhitaryan has finally joined Manchester United. While he is no Neymar, Cristiano Ronaldo or Lionel Messi, he may just exactly be what United need after 3 years of insipid football. Mkhitaryan is a polite chap who does what is required of him. Expect him to excite the Old Trafford crowd and add a new dimension to United’s current footballing ‘philosophy’.
Manchester United have a lot of players that can play as an attacking midfielder, a position Mkhitaryan is usually deployed at. So why have they signed him? Well because he can be possibly be used on the wings too; something his ‘ competition’ lacks‘. So let’s analyze where is the Armenian at his finest and what can be his expected position in the starting line-up next season.
This clearly indicates that he can operate anywhere in the front line as a support to the striker. Now at United, you cannot expect him to play CAM as Rooney could be taking that position in most games. So you can expect Mkhitaryan to take up the right wing role primarily, a role he completely excelled at Dortmund last season.
He would require freedom and would enjoy playing alongside Rooney provided he is able to bring his A-game. But you never know. He might just end up being the preferred number 10. Whether Mkhitaryan can handle the intensity of the Premier League from the beginning is another thing to keep in mind.
Style of play
The Armenian is probably joining United at a time when he is at his peak and is considered to be one of the best all-round attacking midfielders in the world. He is a player who works best in transitions during counter attacks.
Mkhitaryan would be the quick thinker to get the runners on their way and he would also be running with them to get a goal. The Armenian created 83 chances in 31 league games last season and registered 15 assists, more than any other Bundesliga player. While assisting others he managed to score 11 goals as well which makes him quite the package.
The ball doesn’t leave the Armenian’s feet and his ambidextrous nature allows him superior control over the ball. He is always looking to play the through ball. If he cannot play the ball forward, he adapts and mixes things up with dribbling.
Mkhitaryan likes to run with the ball, push the defenders back and subsequently create space for others to move into. He likes to cut in, dribble and provide layoffs something players such as Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Wayne Rooney would really enjoy.
The former Borussia Dortmund star also tracks back which is something that Jose Mourinho wants his players to do. Mkhitaryan is a work-horse that way. He goes back and helps his defenders and subsequently leads the counter attacks going forward once the ball is retrieved.
Sadio Mane vs Henrikh Mkhitaryan
Both are very different types of players but with a very similar goal - to create chances and then assist the strikers for a goal and score some goals in the meantime. While Mane is a proven winger in the Premier League who takes players on and beats them for fun with his explosive pace, he lacks the footballing intelligence of Mkhitaryan.
Mane is 24 and still maybe a couple of years away from his peak and we may have to wait a couple of years to see him flourish completely. But with Klopp at the helm and his knack of getting the best out of young players, one should not be surprised to see Mane being Klopp’s Reus if all goes well.
Mane shouldn’t take much time settling in and the flair of the Liverpool 3 pronged attack is only going to suit him. Expect him to up his level and realise his potential. Jurgen Klopp certainly tried for Mkhitaryan but settled for Mane.
Mkhitaryan is probably at his prime and in a United team that is looking to bounce back from 3 years of mediocrity. He is the perfect player with the apt intelligence to help them get there. With Martial and Rashford around, it should be a surety that the Armenian can use his key passes and through balls to get them through on goal just like he did with Shinji Kagawa, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Marco Reus.
He is usually a slow starter and takes about 1-2 seasons to settle down in a team and flourishing completely in the 3rd season just like he did at Shakhtar Donetsk and Borussia Dortmund but Will he get the same amount of time at Manchester United?
Debut vs Wigan Athletic (Pre-Season Friendly)
His debut against Wigan was just a reminder for United fans what they have been wanting. He managed to keep switching in between the number 10 position and the wing with ease and thus losing his marker in the process.
The new signing wasn’t at his sharpest which is understandable considering this was United’ s first friendly. He almost assisted Memphis Depay who managed to miss from just a few yards out and Mkhitaryan himself missed a glorious chance; one which he would have taken if he was at his sharpest. Mourinho had some kind words to say about his performance after the game.
Mourinho said: "Mkhitaryan is a top-class player and currently at the best stage for a footballer - 27/28 years old.
"He is magnificent the way he thinks about football, he thinks very quickly and it's so sweet how he touches the ball.
"He can play in different positions behind the striker. He doesn't have the sharpness yet but his performance was very positive."
The next season of the Premier League promises to be an awe-inspiring experience. United fans might finally have a lot to cheer about. Are you as excited as I am?