Jose Mourinho believes that Henrikh Mkhitaryan will rediscover his form at Arsenal after failing to have an impact at Manchester United this season.
The Armenian enjoyed a decent opening campaign at Old Trafford but, aside from his first three games, dramatically regressed during his second season under Mourinho.
He joined Arsenal earlier this week in a straight swap deal with Alexis Sanchez going the other way and becoming the club’s new No.7.
And Mourinho, reflecting on Mkhitaryan’s time at Old Trafford, conceded that he could have done more to help him whilst adding that the 29-year-old could have performed better at times.
“I think was a fantastic deal and a fantastic deal is only fantastic if it is good for everybody,” he said. “United and Arsenal made a fantastic deal, I lost a fantastic player, Mr Wenger lost a fantastic player, Alexis changed from a fantastic club to a giant club and Mkhi changed for a fantastic club, so was a great deal for everybody.”
“I believe Mkhi is going to be even better than he was with us. With one and a half years in England, adapted, knows, Arsenal play the way they think, I think is a good move for everybody, that’s why I’m also happy for Mkhi.
“Could he perform better with us, could I take more from his talent, maybe, could he give a little more also to adapt to us, maybe but I don’t think regrets, he’s in our history, so good feeling for everybody and a very specific transfer between rivals in a big country which I have to say must happen more times.”
Mourinho sums up the terminal stages of Mkhitaryan’s Man United career quite well insofar as pointing to one specific reason fails to truly account for what went wrong.
He has never looked like a traditional Mourinho player and the 54-year-old would have most likely wanted a different profile of player arrive in July 2016, but with the club outside the Champions League it may not have been possible.
Mkhitaryan always showed flashes of that intricate brilliance he has on the ball but the emphasis on maintaining a tight shape and keeping attacking play simple would have significantly limited him. At Arsenal, there will be more players around him, more freedom and space in the final third against lesser opponents.
But whether he can truly prove Mourinho wrong and show a capacity to consistently deliver in the Premier League is another question entirely, and one he will need to answer quickly.