When Jose Mourinho made Henrikh Mkhitaryan one of his four key summer signings, most Manchester United fans were delighted.
Regarded as one of the best players in the Bundesliga during his time at Borussia Dortmund, it was hoped that the 27-year-old could be a real difference-maker for the Red Devils.
That has been far from the case so far, however, with a combination of injury and poor form restricting the Armenia international to just 104 minutes of playing time in the Premier League.
Juan Mata, on the other hand, has clocked up 603 top-flight minutes this season, confounding those who thought that his days would be numbered under Mourinho:
Given his lack of football, it is hard to read too much into Mkhitaryan’s numbers at this stage, though there are worrying echoes from his time in Germany.
When the going was good, the former Shakhtar Donetsk playmaker was brilliant, scoring and assisting for fun as Borussia Dortmund finished as runners-up to Bayern Munich in both the 2013/14 and 2015/16 Bundesliga campaigns.
In fact, he was directly involved in 45 top-flight goals across those two seasons, making a positive contribution for his club in 16 of the 20 months in which he featured:
The 27-year-old’s record when things weren’t going so well was far less impressive, however, with a return of just three goals and four assists from his 28 league appearances in 2014/15 contributing to a disappointing seventh-place finish.
In light of the Red Devils’ relative struggles so far this term, this would seem to suggest that Mkhitaryan is not the player to come in and massively improve their fortunes.
His manager would certainly seem to agree based on comments he made about the Armenia international following the recent Europa League defeat at Fenerbahce:
“He has to do more. It’s as simple as that.
“We have big expectations at this club, lots of players for these positions and he has to play better than Mata, Lingard, Martial – he has to play better than them. It’s as simple as that.
“Every manager wants to win matches, every manager in the world wants to play the players that he thinks can help the team more, and I’m no different.”
If we look more closely at the playmaker’s efforts back in 2014/15, however, we can see that he did actually ‘help the team’.
Borussia Dortmund won just one of the six Bundesliga matches that he missed, whilst the figure was up at 43% when he was involved:
Versatile enough to operate in any of the three positions in support of a central striker, most would agree that Mkhitaryan has not yet been given a fair crack of the whip at Old Trafford.
Unless this changes, passing judgement on him will remain difficult, though it is hard to see him setting the Premier League alight in this current Manchester United side.
Blog courtesy of football predictions community KickOff.