Henrikh Mkhitaryan’s long-term suitability to the demands of Premier League has been thrown into doubt following a series of controversial comments made by his Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho.
The Telegraph is reporting that Mourinho opted to leave the Armenia out of the Red Devils recent clash with Arsenal amid concerns that the game was too pressurised a situation for the midfielder to make his return to the team.
Instead, Mourinho is set to use Mkhitaryan in United’s upcoming Europa League fixture against Feyennoord, with the competition viewed as the perfect chance to reintroduce a player rumoured to be low on confidence.
The Manchester United manager said: "I told him, 'This [Arsenal] was not the game for you, I don't think you need 10 or 20 minutes from the bench, I think you need a good game and you need to either start or if not to come (on) for the second half'.”
"He needs less pressure and better conditions for him to express his qualities.
"Yes (he is getting closer). I told him today that he is going to be involved in the game against Feyenoord. He is trying. Obviously he is not happy but he is transforming his frustration in a good way, which is (to) close the mouth and work hard and try to adapt."
Despite Mourinho’s best attempts to downplay the snub, speculation over Mkhitaryan’s Old Trafford future is mounting.
Signed for £26.3 million from Borussia Dortmund last summer, the Armenia arrived at Manchester United with a formidable reputation having scored 23 goals and provided a further 32 assists in a season that saw him crowned Bundesliga Player of The Year.
It’s been an entirely different story since he arrived in England though, with Mkhitaryan without a Premier League appearance to his name since being substituted by Mourinho at half time in Manchester United’s 2-1 defeat to bitter rivals Manchester City – a game in which the Portuguese coach also claimed the Armenian had let the occasion get to him.
Since then, a thigh muscle injury has also hindered his progress, with the 27-year-old’s only other appearance coming as a substitute in the Europa League against Fenerbahce three weeks ago in a game United ultimately slumped to defeat in.
Mkhitaryan’s slow start to life in the Premier League stands in stark contrast to the words of Mourinho, himself, who previously claimed, upon the midfielder’s arrival, that he would make an immediate impact at United.
“I believe he will make an impact on the team very quickly as his style of play is suited to the Premier League. We are all looking forward to working with him,” The Special One confidently declared during the player’s official unveiling.
Five months on and that viewpoint may be subject to some revision.
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