The former Dortmund star has struggled to come to terms with his Premier League move owing to a thigh injury and a lack of chances in his favoured position.
When Borussia Dortmund announced in July that Henrikh Mkhitaryan was following Zlatan Ibrahimovic in signing for Manchester United, fans of the Old Trafford club had every reason to be even more thrilled about the arrival of the Armenian than that of the storied Swedish striker.
The news of Mkhitaryan joining the Premier League side came within 24 hours of Ibrahimovic announcing on social media that he was to be a United player in 2016-17. While Zlatan’s was undoubtedly the more high-profile move of the two, the excitement over the addition of one of the Bundesliga’s most gifted attacking players captured the imagination of supporters who, for two years, had watched their side take a rather stunted approach to attacking football under Louis van Gaal.
Mkhitaryan’s ability with both feet, his eye for the game and weight of pass, his explosive style and fondness for running beyond opposition defenders left United fans anticipating a high-impact addition to the club’s forward department. Having watched Memphis Depay come to England with a similar billing only to fall flat on his face during his debut campaign, there was a belief that in Mkhitaryan their side had found somebody who could truly take United to another level.
Less than four months on there are serious concerns being raised about Mkhitaryan’s position at the club amidst a hugely underwhelming beginning to his United career, and Jose Mourinho’s approach to helping the Armenian through his difficult start to life in England has been called into question.
When Mkhitaryan was announced as a United player, Juan Mata’s future looked increasingly likely to lie away from Old Trafford following his previous issues under Mourinho at Chelsea. The former Dortmund and Shakhtar Donetsk star looked to be a ready-made replacement for the Spaniard. But just when Mkhitaryan has struggled to adapt, Mata has experienced a rejuvenation in exactly the position the Armenian was expected to thrive.
After impressing in the No.10 role against Wigan in his pre-season debut, Mkhitaryan has since been used as a right-sided midfielder or not at all. His only competitive start came on the flank in the Manchester derby loss to City in September, and after being hauled off at half-time he has not been seen in a United shirt since.
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