Manchester United’s latest signing has been backed to succeed by former Armenian coach Raymond Verheijen, who was full of praise for Henrikh Mkhitaryan. The signing of Mkhitaryan brings a versatile midfielder to Jose Mourinho’s team. He has not played at the Premier League level yet after time in Ukraine and Germany with Shakhtar Donetsk and Borussia Dortmund respectively. His incredible goalscoring and assist record last season with Dortmund as he bagged 23 goals and added 26 assists in 51 appearances for the Bundesliga side. Verheijen has high hopes for his former player and thinks he will have a strong transition to United but knows it could take time.
“What I think has been very smart is that he went from Shakhtar to Dortmund and from Dortmund to United.
“I think the Bundesliga has made him sufficiently strong to take the next step to the Premier League. He will need time to adapt, but I trust Mourinho and his staff to let him gradually adapt to that level.”
Captain Wayne Rooney will probably play in the No. 10 role after Mourinho said that the 30-year-old would not be playing in a defensive midfield role. With that, Mkhitaryan will probably play on the right and move centrally throughout the match. He is versatile, and United will have to use that to its advantage. He can fly down the field with or without the ball and pick out passes or even have a shot at goal, and judging by his record the outcome is often a goal. Verheijen has a belief in Mkhitaryan’s versatility and knows that the midfielder is an exceptional player.
“There is one characteristic of him that I have almost never seen with other players and that is the fact that he has an acceleration after an acceleration.
“When he starts dribbling, he accelerates quickly but then, just before somebody tries to challenge him, he can accelerate for a second time. That is something that I thought was very special.
“That is a talent that he has which makes him difficult to defend, especially in the counter-attack. United need to make sure he gets the ball as quickly as possible.”
Developing Mkhitaryan in the Premier League will take time, but he is at the right age to get ready used to Premier League play. Mourinho is a key factor for Mkhitaryan and it will be important that he is able to get the best out of the Armenian. To do so, he will certainly implement him into the starting lineup as quickly as he can, and with Mourinho’s record, a consistent starting eleven should be in his plans.
“If you look with Chelsea winning the title two years ago, they played with the same XI in almost every game.
“I think the same will happen this year with United. He will have significantly less injuries than Van Gaal and Moyes and he will play with the same XI much more often.
“When you do play and train with the same XI more often, the communication between your players and the tactical understanding between your players increases dramatically.”
Mkhitaryan has a chance to make a name for himself in the Premier League and with United. As Mourinho’s third signing with the Red Devils, Mkhitaryan will have pressure on his shoulders to perform in the Old Trafford spotlight. The 27-year-old will play in one of the best competitions in sport and being the first Armenian to play in the League, he will have even more pressure to perform and bring pride to his country. He is not a world-record transfer fee, nor was his £26million fee shocking, but playing for United adds an automatic expectation of greatness, which Mkhitaryan is more than capable of achieving.