Manchester United have landed one of the most exciting attackers in Europe this summer after signing Henrikh Mkhitaryan from Borussia Dortmund earlier this month for an undisclosed fee on a four-year-deal.
The versatile forward will add plenty of goals to the United squad as they look to fight for their first league title since Sir Alex Ferguson left the club. I take a look at how he will fit into the squad next season and what he will bring to the Theatre of Dreams.
The Red Devils won the race for the Armenian international and splashed the cash in order to sign the 27-year-old. Jose Mourinho is building a title winning squad and Mkhitaryan certainly fits that calibre, he will add enormous quality to the United squad predominantly playing as an attacking midfielder but he can also play on either flank. It was on the right wing where he actually found his best form under former boss Tomas Tuchel.
The attacking midfielder joined Dortmund in 2013 from Shakhtar Donetsk for £23.5 million and went on to play 88 times for the German giants, scoring 23 goals. Mkhitaryan has also been capped 59 times for Armenia, scoring 19 goals.
Although Mourinho could opt to play Mkhitaryan on the wings, in my opinion he plays best when he is right behind the number 9, whether that is Zlatan Ibrahimovic or Marcus Rashford next season. When he has the ball, space opens up for him as he creates fantastic goal-scoring opportunities with his exquisite vision he often will feed his teammate with the perfect pass to take into their stride.
Premier League defences will be chasing shadows if Mkhitaryan hits form next season, his creativity, technique, and movement are just elements of his game that can dazzle defences.
The versatile attacking midfielder has many strengths to his game, including through balls, dribbling and his delivery into the box, which will help fellow teammate Ibrahimovic come to life. The new United man loves to pick up the ball and drive at defences where he often beats them with his pace and individual brilliance on the ball, this is backed up with the fact he managed 2.94 successful take ons per 90 last season. He is not just a one dimension player, he’ll often cut inside onto his stronger right foot before creating a goal-scoring chance or playing a killer pass.
Mkhitaryan’s work rate is absolutely sensational, he reminds me of Arsenal’s Alexis Sanchez in the fact he never gets tired and doesn’t want to take a second to rest in the 90 minutes. If his team is threatening in attack but gets dispossessed, he will certainly track back to help his fellow defenders, which will be a massive bonus for Mourinho’s side as they will be able to trust his work rate. For an attacking player, he also has impressive defensive attributes. Last season he managed to win 1.36 tackles per 90 minutes, which is more than you’d expect from a winger that is so productive in the final third.
As I have said, he has been praised for his efficient passing, technique, movement, dribbling and creativity, but he is also blessed with another important trait, being equipped with a dangerous shot and he can become very dangerous in and around the box if a shooting opportunity opens up.
Mkhitaryan is likely to play in the number 10 role for United, benching Juan Mata. I take a look at a few stats to why he should be ahead of the Spanish international. The new United man is far more lethal in front of goal and scored 0.38 goals per 90 minutes last season compared to Mata who managed just 0.19. Creating chances is a key asset to a midfielder’s game, once again the new United man blossoms with 2.87 per 90 which puts him comfortably ahead of Mata (1.65).
Honestly, none. The dazzling midfielder excites me and I am very excited to watch him in the Premier League next season, albeit with Manchester United. There are not many traits to his game that I could pick out as an obvious weakness, he is the perfect all round attacker and will thrive in England this season, dare I say it, I think he’ll have a bigger impact than Zlatan Ibrahimovic at United.
Where does he fit in?
I think United will play 4-2-3-1 next season, or could sometimes play a 4-4-2 (diamond) with their new man Mkhitaryan giving them plenty of options to alter the formation if needs be.
The 27-year-old will be feeding the likes of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial next season, all three attackers have a deadly eye for goal and ooze brilliance.
Mourinho will give him the freedom to roam around, left to right and centrally, this will only be a plus for the side as the versatile man will pick up the ball from any position and create a moment of magic.
He fits in perfectly to a Mourinho team, hard work and graft but also possessing a killer edge to his game makes him the perfect player for the new manager.
The Red Devils have landed themselves a brilliant player in Mkhitaryan, if they add Paul Pogba as well they will certainly be pushing for the title next season and bring back the fear factor to the Theatre of Dreams.