Henrikh Mkhitaryan has joined Arsenal as part of the deal that took Alexis to Manchester United. Alexis Sanchez was coming to the end of his contract and it was clear to all and sundry that he was not going to sign a new deal and once United made it clear they wanted the player Wenger demanded he get Mkhitaryan in return or no dice. The manager was willing to sell Alexis to Manchester City in the summer but the move broke down because Thomas Lemar, the player Wenger had earmarked to replace Alexis, wasn’t ready to move – or at least that’s one take. Many fans had used their betting promo codes, fully expecting the Monaco speedster to complete the move but it did not happen, so Alexis had to sit tight and play the waiting game. Not that we had much of a chance at the title this season anyway but the odds are now 750/1 with bet365 which is extraordinary for a club of our stature. However we are 8/15 to beat Swansea City next Tuesday so every cloud…
Losing Alexis is without question a major blow, it would be a difficult task for any club side in European football to replace his goals and assists. He’s a world-class talent who possesses that bit of magic that turns games in the blink of an eye, which is why richer clubs have stood up and taken notice.
While Mkhitaryan was clearly not a part of Jose Mourinho’s long term plans and did not demonstrate his true potential at United let’s not overlook his inherent quality. Mkhitaryan was very much on Arsenal’s radar before Manchester United gatecrashed the party and took him to Old Trafford alongside the likes of Paul Pogba.
If Arsene Wenger can get the best out of the former Dortmund player we will be getting a player who scored 23 goals and made another astonishing 32 assists in 52 appearances in his last season in German football. In style he is more like another Dortmund and Arsenal legend, Tomas Rosicky. He drives his team forward with quick dribbling touches and the propensity to play one-two’s with team mates around the opposition penalty box. A typical Wengerball player.
It is touch and go whether he will be joined by his old team mate Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang but if he is it could be sensational. The two players had an excellent partnership on the pitch at Borussia Dortmund and Wenger will be hoping that the two can rekindled that form and understanding in North London. Arsene Wenger’s free flowing system will allow Mkhitaryan the freedom to express his talents, something he was not always able to do under Mourinho’s creatively repressive style. It wouldn’t be the first time that a creative player will have been shown the door under Mourinho, only to go and shine elsewhere. Juan Mata, Kevin De Bruyne and Mohamed Salah have all gone on to prove the Portuguese manager wrong.
Arsene Wenger will be hoping that Mkhitaryan will be next in line. In fact, it is not the first time the long serving manager will have worked alongside a player struggling for form only to turn their careers around. The likes of Thierry Henry, Patrick Vieira, Robert Pires, Overmars, Bergkamp (okay, not a Wenger signing but his best years were under Wenger’s tutelage) and many more regained confidence and took steps forward under Wenger’s management.
Mkhitaryan will have Mesut Õzil as a new team mate which is a mouthwatering creative prospect and when you add in Jack Wilshere, Aaron Ramsey and Alexander Lacazette, there is plenty for Arsenal fans to be excited about. Arsenal may well have a tough task on their hands when it comes to getting back into the Champions League spots in the table but they also have the Europa League to fight for. Henrikh Mkhitaryan knows all too well that winning the Europa League will give Arsenal a back door route back into a competition they cannot afford to remain out of for much longer.