In the season just gone, Armenian attacking midfielder Henrikh Mkhitaryan has been hugely impressive for the reigning Ukrainian champions Shakhtar Donetsk. Bagging an impressive 32 goals in just 51 games, he has caught the eye of many suitors in some of Europe’s biggest leagues for the first time since joining Shakhtar for more than £5m from Metalurgs Donetsk a few years ago.
Mkhitaryan in Merseyside
For a number of weeks, rumours of Liverpool’s interest in signing Mkhitaryan have persisted, and they seem like his most likely new employers. Although Shakhtar don’t have to sell, they seem resigned to losing him, as they have already spent serious amounts on replacements from Brazil such as Fred, who joined this summer for £13m and plays in a similar role to the Armenia international.
If he does move to Brendan Rodgers’ rapidly changing side, what could he bring to the club, and will he be guaranteed a starting berth? The rumoured price tag could be as high as £25m, especially given that Shakhtar have already sold Fernandinho to Manchester City for a similarly large amount. For that amount of money, not starting him would seem like a waste.
As well as playing just behind the front two, Mkhitaryan can also play as a second striker, as well as in a flat midfield four in the middle. However, he will want to play in an advanced role, which may pose more than a few selection headaches for Rodgers. Liverpool already has a number of exciting young stars who can play in similar positions, with many of them ending last season in great form.
Chief among them is Daniel Sturridge, who reached double figures since arriving from Chelsea in the January transfer window. Another player who Mkhitaryan will have to fight with for a starting place is the Brazilian playmaker Philippe Coutinho, who likes to play in an advanced midfield role and provide the front one or two with cutting passes.
As for up front, the dual signings of Celta Vigo striker Iago Aspas and Sevilla winger Luis Alberto will make it a little harder to guarantee the Armenia ace a spot in the first XI. If he does arrive, expect him to give Liverpool an added edge which may see them push for a top four spot.