Ilkay Gundogan has claimed Henrikh Mkhitaryan had a few problems adapting to life at Borussia Dortmund but admits he was 'incredible' when he finally managed to settle.
Mkhitaryan spent three years playing for the Bundesliga club but only managed to meet expectation in his final campaign. Prior to then, he had struggled to work under Jurgen Klopp and looked a shadow of the creative force he was at Shakhtar Donetsk.
Gundogan spent all three of those years with the Armenian at the Westfalenstadion and both are expected to meet again in Manchester this summer, albeit at different ends of the city.
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The German midfielder has already signed for Pep Guardiola's Manchester City while Mkhitaryan is widely expected to complete a £26m move to United by the end of the week.
And Gundogan has openly spoken about Mkhitaryan's move to Old Trafford and admits his former team-mate did indeed struggle during his early days at Dortmund. However, he backed the 27-year-old to come good in a red shirt and make a big impact under Jose Mourinho.
Struggles to settle
“He (Henrikh) has been at Dortmund for three years. The first two years were not so easy for him, to be honest,” said Gundogan, according to the Manchester Evening News.
“He’s a player who needs self-confidence, who needs to play every time and prove himself to get better and better. At this time, we were not so successful, so it was not easy for him to adapt. He had a few problems.
“But when you see how he played last year, it was really incredible. Maybe he was the most important player for us last year. If he can go on like this, he will have a big, big impact for Manchester United, and a big plus. I wish him the best, and to stay healthy.”
With Wayne Rooney expected to move into a deep-lying midfield role next season, it is likely Mkhitaryan will find himself in his preferred number ten role behind Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
That certainly seems like a role he will flourish in but he has previously taken time to adapt to a new league and there is nothing harder for a footballer than getting used to the rigours of English football.
While he was excellent last season, scoring 19 goals and assisting a further 24, he had a comparatively abysmal 2014/15 campaign in which he scored just three times and assisted just four.
That suggests a tendency to blow hot and cold, which is not something Jose Mourinho is going to accommodate. He will deservedly take up a key role in the Portuguese's plans but it is unlikely he will be given as much time to adapt as he got in Dortmund.