Henrikh Mkhitaryan has endured a pretty difficult 18 months at Manchester United since signing from Borussia Dortmund for £30 million last summer.
The Armenian was initially left out of the starting line-up by Jose Mourinho early in his United career as he struggled to adjust to Premier League football. However, come the end of last season, he played a very important role as United won a League Cup and Europe League double.
This season, Mkhitaryan started brilliantly, equaling a Premier League record with five assists in the opening three matches.
But it’s started to go wrong for the midfielder once again under Mourinho.
He has been left out of seven of the last eight matchday squads and his manager explained why he hasn’t been featuring much after United’s 1-0 victory over Bournemouth on Wednesday.
"I can only have six [outfield] players on the bench and I try to have some balance on the bench," Mourinho said. "I had two defenders, a central defender and Blind, that can play in different areas.
"I have Ashley Young to cover the wing and wing-backs position, Ander Herrera is a midfield player, Zlatan is a striker, Marcus as a second striker and a winger, I played Martial, Mata and Lingard in the team, to have Mkhi means I don't have one of them.”
Mkhitaryan is 'baffled'
But what does Mkhitaryan think of Mourinho’s decision to constantly snub him?
Well, the Manchester Evening News have produced a report and it makes for very worrying reading.
They claim that Mkhitaryan is “baffled” by his squad demotions and believes his form has suffered due to Mourinho’s defensive demands.
They explain how the player was asked to take on “additional defensive duties” despite being played in the ‘number 10’ role behind Romelu Lukaku.
They also write: “Sources claim Mkhitaryan believes he accomplished what Mourinho asked from him in a defensive capacity, while other United attackers also feel they under-performed as a result of the tactical changes Mourinho presided over during the club's four-game Premier League run between the October and November internationals.”
They also suggest that Mkhitaryan is “perplexed” at his lack of game-time - especially after scoring in both of Armenia's November wins over Belarus and Cyrpus.
So, it certainly seems that the relationship between Mkhitaryan and Mourinho is extremely strained right now and, if this report is to be believed, it’s hard to see the former Dortmund player having a long-term future at the Theatre of Dreams while 'The Special One' is still in charge.
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