Where will Henrikh Mkhitaryan fit in under Jose Mourinho at Manchester United?
By Simeon Gholam
Last Updated: 06/07/16 9:20pm
Henrikh Mkhitaryan has joined Manchester United on a four-year deal, making the move from Borussia Dortmund.
The clubs agreed a £26.3m fee for the Armenia international, who has the option to extend his contract for a year, and is Jose Mourinho's third signing of the summer.
But how will the 27-year-old midfielder fit in at Old Trafford? Here, we take a look...
Name: Henrikh Mkhitaryan
Mkhitaryan started his career in Armenia with Pyunik, before leaving in 2009 and spending four years in Ukraine with Metalurh Donetsk and Shakhtar Donetsk.
A club-record switch to Borussia Dortmund then occurred in 2013, and he went on to score 41 times in 140 games in all competitions during three years in Germany.
However, his only piece of silverware in that time came with the German Super Cup in 2014 as Bayern Munich dominated the Bundesliga.
He made his Armenia debut in 2007, and is their record goalscorer having found the net 19 times in 59 caps so far.
Style of play
A creative attacking midfielder, Mkhitaryan registered 11 goals and 15 assists last season in 31 Bundesliga appearances for Borussia Dortmund, being voted the Players' Player of the Season in the process as they finished second behind Bayern Munich.
While naturally more of a No 10, the Armenian also has the speed and skill to play out wide - once saying he would have been a sprinter were he not a footballer - and the calmness and composure to play deeper as a central midfielder.
How would he fit in?
That adaptability will be highly valued by Jose Mourinho, who has favoured a 4-2-3-1 formation in recent years and tends to deploy a fluid attacking trio behind a main striker who can all rotate roles.
One of Manchester United's problems last season (among a host of others) was their system often looking too rigid during games, and a player like Mkhitaryan could certainly provide a solution to that.
Since his time at Inter Milan, Mourinho has often employed a formation which allows for a No 10, with Wesley Sneijder at the San Siro then Mesut Ozil at Real Madrid arguably being the focal points of those sides.
During his second stint at Stamford Bridge, Mourinho lacked a consistent central playmaker, allowing both Kevin De Bruyne and Juan Mata to leave the club, two criticised decisions that left him with Oscar as his only natural player in that role.
Manchester United are traditionally associated with width and have struggled in recent years to adapt to playing with a No 10 - with a previous signing from Borussia Dortmund in Shinji Kagawa failing to make an impact at Old Trafford - but the imminent recruitment of Mkhitaryan suggests Mourinho is likely to persevere with his favoured style rather than revert to a more classic Red Devils formation.
Time up for Mata?
Much like it did at Chelsea, it looks like Mourinho's arrival could spell the end of Mata's time at the club.
With Anthony Martial, Marcus Rashford, Wayne Rooney all likely to command starting places next season, and with Zlatan Ibrahimovic also arriving, it is hard to see where Mata could fit in.
Other men likely to be concerned are Ander Herrera - a fans' favourite who failed to win over Louis van Gaal - and Marouane Fellaini. Both were regularly deployed as the most advanced midfielder for United last season, but now face an uncertain future at Old Trafford.
Captain Rooney now seems set for a longer run in a far deeper midfield role for Manchester United, where he impressed in the latter part of last season and has also performed well there for England at Euro 2016.
Mourinho's favoured side?
Rotation and squad options are obviously a necessity in the modern game, and there is unlikely to be too much of a mass exodus from Old Trafford this summer.
Mourinho, however, has always been a manager who has a preferred XI for big games, and with Manchester United out of the Champions League next season it is hard to see how he could keep the likes of Mata, Herrera and Fellaini content with a slew of Europa League and domestic cup appearances, should Mkhitaryan become his main man in the middle in the Premier League.
Should Mourinho stick with 4-2-3-1, then he could perhaps line up like this:
What they said
Jurgen Klopp: "'There is no doubt in my mind that he is one of the most talented players in the world. He possesses an incredible combination of speed and technique. There's very, very few you can say that about."
Borussia Dortmund boss Thomas Tuchel: "We want to hold on to Mkhitaryan at all costs. Miki is a real champion and we want to keep him."
Roberto Carlos: "He is a high class player".
Youri Djorkaeff: "Mkhitaryan is wonderful, and I think he's the best footballer in Armenian history."
Pat Nevin: "He has pace, skill, a rocket of a shot and the ability to arrive in the box like Frank Lampard. This all singles him out as a player who must be watched or more importantly marked."