Arsenal have been dealt a blow in the transfer market after one of their main targets for the summer has said he would like to move to Manchester United this summer.
Henrikh Mkhitaryan was thought to be a serious target for Arsenal but the Gunners appear to be the Armenian’s second choice following recent comments from his agent Mino Raiola. Raiola said that his client was ‘pushing for a move to Manchester United this month’ after the player refused to sign a contract extension at the German club.
Mkhitaryan’s current deal expires in 2017 and Dortmund are insistent that they would like to keep hold of the creative midfielder until his contract expires. The player has different ideas and is now pushing for a move this month with Arsenal and Manchester United both willing to pay €30million, an amount likely to persuade Dortmund into selling this summer rather than lose him for nothing in 12 months time.
If Manchester United and Raiola manage to push through a deal then Jose Mourinho would be getting a player that can score and assist regularly. The 27-year-old has spent most of his career playing in a number 10 role but he has excelled in wide areas under Tomas Tuchel in Germany. Predominantly playing from the right-wing, Mkhitaryan scored 11 and assisted 15 goals in 31 Bundesliga games last season.
Jese Lingard was Manchester United’s winger for much of last season but looking at the stats he is nowhere near the level of Mkhitaryan. The Dortmund midfielder made 2.32 key passes per 90 compared to Lingard’s 0.72. He also scored 0.38 goals, Lingard managed just 0.22. Mkhitaryan also uses his pace and guile to his advantage making 2.94 successful take ons per 90 minutes, Lingard struggles in this department managing just 1.16. One area Lingard does stand above Mkhitaryan is pass completion, completing 85% of his passes, 10% more than the Dortmund man. This won’t bother Mourinho much though, as his tactics are rarely based around possession. Mourinho cares more about efficiency than keeping the ball and Mkhitaryan is exactly that, making him perfectly suited to the right-hand side of Mourinho’s new look midfield. His pace also makes him a quality outlet for counter-attacks.
Arsenal may now turn their attention to the signing of Leicester City’s Riyad Mahrez. Arsenal were thought to favour a move for Mkhitaryan, but if he does opt to join Mourinho’s men then 25-year-old Mahrez is a quality ready made alternative. Nobody who watched Premier League football needs to be told of Mahrez’ quality. The Algerian scored an incredible 17 league goals from the wing and made a further 11 assists. Arsenal are clearly searching for an efficient winger and Mahrez is a great alternative to Mkhitaryan.
Any deal for Mahrez, Mkhitaryan or any new winger for Arsenal may hinge on the possible departures of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Theo Walcott. It is likely at least one of those would have to leave before any new players come in, although the English duo are both thought to be happy at the club, despite the lack of first team football currently.
Arsenal remain hopeful of signing Mahrez’ teammate Jamie Vardy, who is set to make his decision at the end of June after England’s participation at Euro 2016 is over.