Henrikh Mkhitaryan: The Fall From Grace

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Manchester United have been linked with the signing of Alexis Sanchez from Arsenal. A big club aiming for a star player is no surprise, but the real surprise lies in the fact that José Mourinho has attempted to scupper Manchester City’s hopes of securing the Chile forward for £20m by making a bid in the region of £25m apart from adding Mkhitaryan as a makeweight to sweeten the deal.

Sánchez has already agreed on personal terms worth around £250,000 a week with Pep Guardiola’s side.

The Armenian was supposed to be the man who sparked up the dull football Man United were playing under Louis van Gaal. The dazzling attacker took fans off their seats with his array of skills, goals, perfectly weighted passes and twinkle-toed feet to show what he was capable of in fits and spurts. However, the midfielder failed to have a consistent run of excellent form and spent the last few months watching different players take his place while he wasted away on the bench or worse, from the stands.

How did this fall from grace happen?

Micki, as the talented playmaker is fondly called, arrived in great fanfare as the German Bundesliga Player of The Year and at 27, he was at his prime and getting him for a mere £26.7m was considered a snip at the time with top class players going for north of £50m. He came with a wealth of attacking talent, and after seeing him top the 20 point mark for goals and assists in the previous season, he was seen as the man to sort out the Red Devils’ limpness in front of goal.

Initially, Mkhitaryan was used sparingly as he was yet to settle to the pace of the league. He was brought on to great effect in the Hull City game as his introduction changed the tide and led to a United win at the KCOM Stadium. He started for Red Devils in the game right after the international break, the Manchester derby but was largely ineffective and abysmal and was hooked at halftime.

The Armenian sensation was reintroduced for the cup games and Europa League games, the form he showed meant there were calls for him to be used in the Premier League. He took his chance, getting the lone goal in the 1-0 win over Spurs in December.

The form continued into the latter stages of the Europa League but as the team’s focus changed from domestic aspirations to continental dreams, his league form didn’t take much cognisance. He ended the season on a high, getting the second goal in the 2-0 victory over Ajax, securing their place in the Champions League for this season.

Mkhitaryan started the season like a man inspired, giving 5 assists in his first 2 games, creating loads of chances and in Romelu Lukaku, a man who buried them. They were actively involved in the race to get ahead of the pack, winning games with huge margins. However, this all changed however when Jose Mourinho took the attacking sting out of his side as they travelled to Anfield, parking the bus and playing out a goalless stalemate, Henrikh was given no chance to show what he could do as Jose reverted to type and couldn’t do much to influence the game. He was hooked, and his form nosedived.

He has never remained the same, and as a player who dwells a lot on confidence, the missed games dealt him a bitter blow. He wasn’t playing, and it came as no surprise that when he was called upon, he hardly played like he was capable of. The verve had gone.

This is slightly reminiscent of what happened with di Maria under Louis van Gaal, which led to the exit of the Argentine, a decision Jose derided when he took the job and now with a chance to do otherwise, he has gone down the same route he once sneered.

Henrikh Mkhitaryan is likely to leave, sooner or later, but he will be remembered for failing to live up to his billing in the red half of Manchester.

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