Various sources have claimed that Manchester United are close to signing Henrikh Mkhitaryan from Borussia Dortmund. Jose Mourinho has been working rapidly since being appointed Manchester United manager exactly a month ago. After signing the Ivorian defender Eric Bailly from Villareal, reports have emerged that Zlatan Ibrahimovic too is to have a medical at United. Since the departure of Sir Alex Ferguson, United have looked a shadow of their former self. Although, United did win their first trophy since the Scot’s departure last month, the FA Cup, a 5th place finish is simply not good enough for a team that has dominated the Premier League for the last 24 years. The tactics and man management of the recently fired Louis Van Gaal came under much scrutiny after United struggled in front of goal. Playing players out of position was another problem that cost the Dutchman. United need some dynamic attacking players with creativity and Mkhitaryan is definitely a step in the right direction.
Mkhitaryan was a vital player for Borussia Dortmund last season, especially with Marco Reus suffering various injuries. His 11 goals and 15 assists in the Bundesliga earned him the Bundesliga Player of the Year award as well as place on the team of the season. The Armenian has been deployed across various positions although he primarily played out on the right with Aubameyang in the middle and Reus on the left. He loves cutting in from the flanks though and has a great range of passing as proved by his 18 assists in the season. It was Juan Mata who spent majority of last season playing on the right hand side for United, but it’s obvious he’s much better playing through the middle. He comes alive when he has the ball around the box. Also, United have traditionally always played with flowing wide players and so Mkhitaryan should slot right in.
This is how United might line up with the Armenian: (4-3-3)
- David De Gea- The Spaniard is without a doubt one of the best keepers in the world at the moment. United’s Player of the Year for the last three years, and with Real Madrid’s interest in him coming to an end, he will be starting in goal for United.
- Matteo Darmian- Darmian had a tremendous start to life at United, being one of their best players early on last season. But the perils of adapting to life in the Premier League soon started to affect him. Being in and out of the team due to bad form and injuries didn’t help him either and many of the youngsters have done well in his absence. Although he did lose his place to Valencia at the end of the season, Mourinho should keep faith in the Italian as he has shown he has what it takes.
- Chris Smalling- Smalling took his performances to the next level last season and he was instrumental in United having one of the best defensive records in the league. He’s a fighter and scraps for every single ball. He can soon transform into a very effective leader of the defence and he will definitely start at centre-back.
- Eric Bailly- Although Daley Blind did a good job at centre-back for United, it’s not his natural position. United were in need of a centre-back and Bailly should start alongside Smalling at the heart of the United defence. He’s already been up against the likes of Ronaldo and Messi and obviously Mourinho saw something in him. The Portuguese manager was the one who brought Zouma to Chelsea and Varane to Madrid, two very fine central defenders and hopefully Bailly can be the third.
- Luke Shaw- Shaw had a terrific start to the season before he suffered a horrific injury against PSV Eindhoven ruling him out for the rest of the season. It was a bit of a turning point for United in the League. Apart from being good defensively, he is very good going forward as he is very quick. It will be a threatening left hand side when he links up with Martial.
- Morgan Schneiderlin- The Frenchman sat on the bench for a lot of games and United fans couldn’t understand why. United looked much more solid with him protecting the back four and their win percentage was significantly higher with him in the team.
- Wayne Rooney- Rooney has reinvented himself in the midfield role. His passing has been superb. Playing in this kind of a position, he is able to control the game and dictate the play. He can always drop deep to help out Schneiderlin and also counter attack with speed.
- Juan Mata- Although things didn’t work out for Mourinho and Mata last time, hopefully things will be different this time. Playing in a more central role, he’ll be able to express himself. Playing alongside Rooney, it might help him to play more freely being able to count on Rooney to help defensively.
- Henrikh Mkhitaryan- The Armenian will slot right in out on the right. He’s the dynamic and pacey player United need to bring some creativity. Not only does he score goals, he creates them as well.
- Anthony Martial- Anthony Martial was one of the signings of the Premier League last season. Playing through the middle and out on the left, he looked to be the only player trying to create something at times. His skill and speed as well as his hold up play were brilliant.
- Zlatan Ibrahimovic- The Ibrahimovic deal seems to be all but done. Although the striker is aging, there is no doubt he is a world class player and should be able to light up the Premier League. He also enjoys a good rapport with Mourinho. Sadly this means Rashford might have to move to the bench, but hopefully he does get enough of a chance to play as well.