Posted on February 1st, 2018
Arsenal came extremely close to having to allow superstar forward Alexis Sanchez to leave the Emirates for free next summer, but instead managed to strike a deal that could turn out to be a very shrewd bit of business. The North London club managed to secure an exchange deal with Manchester United, with Henrikh Mkhitaryan travelling in the opposite direction. Although the Armenian endured a tumultuous time with the Red Devils, prior to his move to Old Trafford he was hot property and sought by a number of top clubs. If Mkhitaryan can recapture the form he displayed at Borussia Dortmund, he could be an excellent acquisition for Arsene Wenger.
Mkhitaryan made a name for himself at Shakhtar Donetsk, where he scored 38 goals in 72 league appearances in the Ukrainian Premier League. In his final season at the club, he set a league record in the Ukrainian top flight for most goals in a season with 25. This generated a lot of interest from the European elite, with Dortmund stumping up around €30 million to sign the dangerous attacking midfielder.
The German side are currently struggling in the top division and around 80/1 in the Bundesliga betting to top the pile this season. But at the time of the Mkhitaryan capture, they were challenging at the summit of the German top flight. The Armenian made an instant impact in the 2013-14 campaign, finishing the season with nine goals and ten assists. This helped Dortmund to a second-place finish and earned Mkhitaryan a spot in the WhoScored Bundesliga Team of the Season. While at the Westfalenstadion, the technically gifted speedster scored 23 goals in 90 league appearances, and was a key component in the Dortmund attack.
Although Jose Mourinho identified Mkhitaryan as a key signing when he arrived in the red side of Manchester, the Portuguese has rarely shown faith in the player. But when the Armenian international signed for United, Wenger had also expressed an interest in the player, believing him to be a perfect fit for the Gunners’ playing style. Now that the 29-year-old has finally made the move to the Emirates, it could be his opportunity to make a mark on the English top flight.
Reports suggest that Mkhitaryan has signed a three-and-a-half year deal at the Emirates, on a salary of around £200,000-a-week. This would make him the highest-paid player on Arsenal’s books, unless Mesut Ozil agrees on an improved deal. In Mkhitaryan’s first game for the Gunners, he came on as a second-half substitute against Swansea City and failed to make an impact in the 3-1 loss. But once he starts clicking in the starting XI, many are predicting that the former United man’s playing style will suit Arsenal.
The Gunners have known that they would lose Sanchez for a while, but they may not have expected to get a quality player in a straight swap deal. If Mkhitaryan settles quickly in North London, his signing could represent an excellent bit of business.