Henrikh Mkhitaryan vs Juan Mata: who had a better season in 2015/16?

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With Manchester United set to confirm the signing of Henrikh Mkhitaryan from Borussia Dortmund any day now, Juan Mata may be left out in the cold at Old Trafford.

Reports from the Independent suggest that the Spaniard could be on his way to Everton as Jose Mourinho takes charge at United, who ruthlessly cut Mata when he rejoined Chelsea back in 2014, and the same is likely to happen again in Manchester with the arrival of Mkhitaryan.

However, is Mourinho right to cut Mata, or is he making a mistake?


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We compare how the two players performed domestically last season in an attempt to work out who the best choice for Mourinho will be.


Mata signed for Manchester United in January 2014 for £37 million.

At the time it was a club record fee for United before they spent big on Angel di Maria. However, they're highly unlikely to get back what they paid for Mata, with the Telegraph suggesting Everton are willing to pay £20 million for his services.  

Mkhitaryan will likely be a cheaper signing than what Mata was, with the Independent reporting a fee believed to be around £26 million for the Armenian. 

Arguably, Manchester United haven't quite got their money's worth from Mata while he's been at the club, making 86 appearances and scoring 21 goals to date. They may be willing to cut their losses as Mourinho takes over, as it's unlikely they'll want to bench their new signing. 

Playing time 

Mkhitaryan will have to adjust to the demands of Premier League football next season. In Germany, he played 31 of Dortmund's 34 Bundesliga games last season, clocking 2,574 minutes on the pitch. 

Whilst at United, Mata played every one of his sides 38 league games last season and was on the turf for 2,889 minutes. 

Unlike many of Europe's other leagues, the Premier League season doesn't have a mid-season break, and players battle through the winter with their clubs. This is something Mkhitaryan hasn't had to do before, and it may take him a bit of time to adjust to the league.

With an extra four games over the course of the league season, as well as two cups and the Europa League to deal with, the Armenian will have his work cut out next season. 

Mata himself, after spending the past six years in England, is already well adjusted and looked as fresh as ever driving United to FA Cup glory with an equaliser in the final against Crystal Palace at the end of last season.

Chance Creation

Both players are judged on their ability to create for their teammates. Their main role is to set up goals rather than score them. 

In the Bundesliga last season, Mkhitaryan produced the following stats:

Total passes: 1318

Pass completion: 75%

Chances created: 82

Assists: 15 

Mata managed these stats in the Premier League last year:

Total passes: 1772

Pass completion: 89%

Chances created: 53

Assists: 5

In terms of creating chances, it appears the players are very similar, however, in terms of accuracy, Mata is far superior, and even though he made over 400 more passes than Mkhitaryan, his accuracy is unmatched.

However, the Dortmund man created 29 more clear cut scoring chances than Mata and bagged 10 more assists than the Spaniard, even though he played seven fewer games.  

Midfield Battles

Mourinho is the type of manager that expects his players to give their all in terms of attacking and defending, meaning how the two performed in the middle of the park is just as important. 

Mkhitaryan battled towards these stats last season:

Successful take ons: 84

Tackles won: 39

Duels won: 48%

Mata posted the following numbers: 

Successful take ons: 30

Tackles won: 23

Duels won: 41%

Judging by these numbers, it's clear to see why Mourinho may prefer Mkhitaryan over Mata. The Armenian appears much more willing to battle for his side, winning 16 more tackles over the course of last season, and taking on 54 more players successfully than Mata. He also won a few more of his midfield duels while at Dortmund. 

However, as the two play in different leagues, it's tough to know if Mkhitaryan will be able to do as well in the Premier League, which is arguably more physical and demanding than the Bundesliga.

End Product

Although it's not essential, the two players can be compared over their finishing. They may not be expected to score every game, but they should be relied on to produce a moment of magic every so often.  

Mkhitaryan achieved these stats in the final third:

Total shots: 81

Shot accuracy: 48%

Goals: 11

Meanwhile, Mata finished the season with these: 

Total shots: 57

Shot accuracy: 58%

Goals: 6

Once again, Mkhitaryan slightly shades Mata in terms of goals scored, but it's the latter who has the better shot accuracy.

Mkhitaryan took far more shots, and finished with an accuracy of 48%, whilst Mata took 57 shots with an accuracy of 58%.

Now the important stats are compared, we have a better picture of the two players, and it appears that Mourinho may be right to sign Mkhitaryan as a replacement for Mata, as he looks like a much more rounded player.

However, as the Armenian has never played in the Premier League, he might be a slight gamble as it's not certain that he can produce his best in a tougher league.

With Mkhitaryan's move to Old Trafford likely to be confirmed in the coming days, fans will not have to wait long to see if Mourinho made the right decision.

Who is the better player? Henrikh Mkhitaryan or Juan Mata? Have YOUR say in the comment section below!

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Wayne Rooney
Premier League
Cristiano Ronaldo
Henrikh Mkhitaryan
David Beckham
Juan Mata
Manchester United
Ryan Giggs

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