When Henrikh Mkhitaryan left Germany behind for a mulit-million pound move to Manchester United last summer, one doubts that the captain of the Armenian national side expected his first few months at the Premier League club to go quite like this. Despite Jose Mourinho’s desire to bring in a right-sided attacker during his first transfer window in charge at Old Trafford, the former Borussia Dortmund player, and the man voted last year’s Bundesliga Player of the Year has only started one competitive fixture for his new club, and it’s a game he’ll likely want to forget. The quality of his display in the first half against Manchester City in September was enough to earn him a half time substitution, although given that he had only recently returned from injury picked up whilst on international duty, perhaps his inability to reach the level of intensity required for such a big match was unrealistic.
Mkhitaryan hasn’t been seen from in either the starting XI or on the substitute’s bench since, missing United’s last seven games. Mourinho, though, has confirmed that the Armenian is ready to return to his set-up and take part in games, and will potentially have some involvement in Thursday night’s Europa League clash with Fenerbahce in Group A. Speaking at his pre-match press conference, he had this to say:
“He was injured and he was injured for quite a long time. Now, he’s not injured anymore.”
“He’s training with the team without any limitation. I cannot confirm if he’s [ready] for tomorrow or not, but he’s fit and it’s now time for him to go back to the levels we know that he can achieve.”
Those are encouraging words for Mkhitaryan, given how clear it’s been that Mourinho is yet to be fully convinced about how well the player is coping with adapting to life in England and the Premier League. Even before that defeat at the hands of City, Mkhitaryan had been used sparingly as a substitute coming into games late on, and struggling to have much of an effect. Now, the hope is that the former Dortmund man can begin to make a claim for a place in the starting XI on the right hand side of attack, such is his obvious talent. Given that few positions in Mourinho’s attack are truly nailed down so far this season, the opportunity is there for Mkhitaryan, if he’s able to take it.