Henrikh Mkhitaryan has reportedly told Arsenal that he does not want to return to the club at the end of the season. But in reality, he is not wanted anyway.
This week, Henrikh Mkhitaryan reportedly made waves with a rather bullish and plain statement. The Arsenal winger is currently on loan with Roma, and has enjoyed a relatively successful season. In 811 Serie A minutes, he has an impressive six goals and three assists and has impressed Roma head coach, Paulo Fonseca.
“I want him to stay and he also wants to stay,” he told Russian TV programme Great Football in late-April via the Metro. “However, it should be clear that everything is now on hiatus, and we’ll have to talk to Arsenal. I want to continue working with him because he’s a great player and a great man.”
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And now it seems as though Mkhitaryan wants to stay. According to Corriere dello Sport, via the Daily Mail, the Armenian has told Arsenal that he is happy at Roma and does not want to return to north London at the end of the season. “My time in London is over, I hope you manage to find an agreement with Roma because my desire is to remain,” Mkhitaryan is reported as saying. It leaves very little room for manoeuvring or misinterpretation.
What Mkhitaryan misses, however, is that there is little desire to see him return to the Gunners in the first place. He speaks as if he will be welcomed back with open arms. In reality, the club — and large portions of the fan base — is keen to offload him and his £200,000-per-week wage. Mkhitaryan has been a severe drain on resources, resources that are already hugely stretched and will only further be tested amid the COVID-19 crisis.
There is good reason to see Mkhitaryan leave. Of course, the financial aspect is important to recognise and is hugely influential in the decision-making process. But beyond just money, there are several footballing reasons, too.
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First and foremost, Mkhitaryan has been extremely poor when he has played for Arsenal. Bar a few bright performances here and there, for the most part, he has struggled, his lack of athleticism and dynamism a major issue throughout Unai Emery’s first season in charge. It was telling that Emery was so keen to offload Mkhitaryan on loan last summer and replace him with a £72 million player who possessed the exact type of athletic make-up that Mkhitaryan could not match.
Moreover, Mkhitaryan turned 31 in January. If there are concerns regarding how Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Alexandre Lacazette and Mesut Ozil fit into the Mikel Arteta rebuild that could take years to show true progress, how much more should worry extend to Mkhitaryan, who has been less effective than all three and is older than both Aubameyang and Lacazette.
As a result, then, while Mkhitaryan may not want a return from Roma, so do Arsenal not want to see him back in north London. It is time for the pair to split.