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Henrikh Mkhitaryan's first interview

Henrikh Mkhitaryan has given his first interview to MUTV after completing his move to Manchester United on Wednesday.

The Armenian spoke to Mark Sullivan about his move to Old Trafford, linking up again with good friend Adnan Januzaj and the "weird" prospect of facing his former club Borussia Dortmund later this month...

Welcome, Henrikh – how does it feel to sign for Manchester United?
Thank you very much. I am very excited – it’s a big opportunity for me to play for Manchester United, a new challenge for me. I will try to do my best. 

How big a factor was Jose Mourinho in your decision?
He was one of reasons why I chose Manchester, but also the team because it’s one of the biggest clubs in the world. I couldn’t reject this offer and I’m very happy to be here. 

How excited are you to link up with the likes of Wayne Rooney, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and all the other star names we have here?
I think this year the team is going to be amazing and it will be a pleasure for me to play with these guys.

You come from a sporting family – your father Hamlet played football. How big an influence was he in your career and how proud would he be now?
When he was playing, I was too young to fully understand football but, after he passed away, my dream was to become a football player. I was thinking to continue the job he did and hopefully I am on my way.

You’ve developed your game from your time in Armenia to the Ukraine and most recently with Borussia Dortmund, so how has that helped you and are you at your best now?
I think to look back, maybe I went a very long way to come here but, for me, this is not the highest point I can reach. I can go further and I am very happy for that because I think I did everything right in my life and I’m going step by step forward.

How big a challenge will the Premier League be?
Everyone knows it’s one of the biggest championships in the world and I’m very happy to be part of it.

Did you speak much to Shinji Kagawa and Adnan Januzaj, while he was on loan at Dortmund, about United?
I was very close with Adnan. He’s one of my friends and even before I came here I was always in touch with him and he was asking if I was going to join. I said 'I don’t know' but now I’m here and I will have him as a friend and helper.

How proud are you to be the first Armenian to play in the Premier League and what do you think the reaction will be back in your country?
Everyone was waiting for this transfer deal and I’m very happy that everyone can be proud of me because it’s an honour for me to be the first Armenian in the Premier League, and I will try to keep their expectation. I think it’s one of the biggest [clubs in Armenia].

The first chance we may get to see you in action could be on tour in China and our first game is against your old club Borussia Dortmund. What are your feelings ahead of that?
It will be a little bit strange to meet my ex-team-mates and in the first game, maybe I will have some emotions. It will be a little bit weird but whatever – Manchester is my new team.

The whole tour experience will be something new to you. United are huge in Asia – are you prepared for what you’re about to see?
I’ve heard about that and I’m ready for it!

What can our fans expect from you this season?
I will try to do my best – I will try to keep working hard. The goals I achieved last year, I will try to do this year too.

What are your impressions of Old Trafford and how excited are you to play there?
I’ve never played at Old Trafford but I think it’s one of the most amazing stadiums in the world and for me it’s going to be very interesting to play in the stadium, and also for the supporters.

Do you have a message for the United fans who are eagerly anticipating your debut? 
Dear fans, I will be very glad to see you in the stadium for every game and I will try to do my best to help Manchester win.

More: Watch the full interview in our video player above




Mkhitaryan, 27, made 140 appearances and scored 41 goals for Borussia Dortmund after joining them in 2013. Last season he scored 23 goals and registered an impressive 32 assists across all competitions. Henrikh was voted Bundesliga Player of the Season for 2015/16 in a poll of his fellow professionals, and he was named in the Team of the Season following votes by the players’ union in Germany, VDV.

The midfielder is Armenia’s all-time top scorer, with 19 goals in 59 appearances since his international debut in January 2007. Henrikh captains his national team and has received the Armenian Footballer of the Year award on five occasions.

Henrikh Mkhitaryan said: "I am very proud to join Manchester United, this move is a dream come true for me. I am excited to play for a club with such an illustrious history and hope to be part of it for a long time. I thank the trust the club and Jose Mourinho have put in me. Finally, I believe playing for such a great club honours my father’s memory, and the inspiration and drive he gave to me when I was young."

José Mourinho said: "Henrikh is a very talented footballer who has been in such prolific form for both his club and his country. He is a real team player with great skill, vision and also has a good eye for goal. I am delighted he has chosen to sign for United. I believe he will make an impact on the team very quickly as his style of play is suited to the Premier League. We are all looking forward to working with him."

Henrikh Mkhitaryan is not your average footballer. The man from Armenia, his country's captain and finest player, speaks six languages and is keen to embrace an academic future in retirement.

It is his fluent football, however, that will be of most interest to Manchester United fans. Borussia Dortmund's record signing when arriving from Shakhtar Donetsk in 2013 may have taken time to shine in the Bundesliga but leaves the club as the DW Player of the Season. Scooping the fan-voted award is no mean feat when you consider the opposition from the galaxy of stars at Bayern Munich and the runner-up and former Red Javier Hernandez at Bayer Leverkusen.

Brought up in the most football obsessed of families - his late father Hamlet won two international caps while his mother and sister work in administration for the Armenian Football Federation and UEFA respectively - he thinks deeply about the game and is an intelligent individual off the pitch as well as on it. "I don't play football to become famous but to enjoy life," he once stated. "Football is everything in my life. I can't imagine life without football."

Although born in part of the former Soviet Union, he was relocated to France as a toddler when his father joined Valence and has had few problems moving around the globe to further his career. Indeed, he even had a trial with Sao Paulo in Brazil as a 14-year-old alongside a young Oscar, the Chelsea midfielder. Yet his initial breakthrough was more conventional, coming as a 17-year-old at Pyunik following a return to his native Yerevan, where his efforts earned a switch to a bigger platform with Metalurh Donetsk.

After becoming the youngest captain in Metalurh's history at the age of 21, he was swiftly handed the opportunity to move across Donetsk to Shakhtar and enjoy another rise in profile. The Don Bass Arena provided another step up and he relished it, emerging as a key performer for Mircea Lucescu's men and earning the Player of the Year award in 2011/12. Scoring and creating goals, buzzing around the pitch and causing problems for opposing defences, he grew in stature and cemented his reputation as one of Europe's most creative schemers.

"His game awareness may be his most valuable quality," commented coach Lucescu. "That and the speed, power and technique Henrikh was gifted by nature and has developed." The Romanian is a shrewd judge of talent and, as Mkhitaryan racked up eye-catching statistics and proved his worth in the Champions League, it was not long before the opportunity to join one of Europe's biggest domestic leagues would come calling.

Three years ago, Jurgen Klopp's Dortmund met Shakhtar's hefty valuation of one of their star assets and the pressure was on to justify the outlay. "There is no doubt in my mind that he is one of the most talented players in the world," said the current Liverpool manager, who ironically beat off competition from the Merseysiders to land his target. "He possesses an incredible combination of speed and technique. There are very, very few you can say that about."

His first season in the Bundesliga was impressive as Dortmund finished runners-up to Bayern Munich. However, as a deep thinker, during the following campaign, by his own admission, began to be too self critical of his performances and suffered injury problems. It was only really when Klopp announced he would be departing that the attacking midfielder started to come out of his shell. Thanks to the successful coach's replacement, Thomas Tuchel, the transformation was complete as Mkhitaryan blossomed into the player everyone predicted he would become.

"Last year, I didn't do too much," he said of the 2014/2015 season as Dortmund flirted with the relegation zone before powering up the table to finish seventh. "In order to take two steps forward, you sometimes have to go one backwards beforehand. 

"You can’t be steady for your entire life, sometimes you need to be prepared for tougher times. Problems make you stronger. He [Tuchel] convinced me to stay but I also wanted to stay. I had things to prove to people to show I deserve to be here. I am thankful to him. He just gave me confidence and let me do what I can do."

The respect was mutual. Tuchel described him as a "great example" and "one of the best players [even if] he hasn't peaked yet." Making up for lost time, he was outstanding for Dortmund as they finished runners-up to Bayern Munich in the table last term and scored the opening goal at Anfield, even if the Bundesliga side contrived to lose a titanic Europa League tie with eventual beaten finalists Liverpool. It was not his first strike in England as he also netted his maiden Champions League goal for Dortmund during a 2-1 triumph at Arsenal in 2013.

A crafty attack-minded player capable of performing a variety of roles within any formation, he was exactly the sort of addition Jose Mourinho had in mind when taking over as Manchester United manager. Romanced by the idea of moving to Old Trafford, a transfer described as one that was impossible to resist by his agent, expect to see a technician capable of unlocking even the most stubborn of defences.

Hailing from a nation renowned for producing chess players, it is no surprise to hear he plays the game himself, and this could be how he is portrayed - as a man determined to use his brain and wit to outmanoeuvre the opposition. He will have to adapt to life in England, of course, but it is one of those six languages he can speak.

"You should always want to learn something new," he exclaimed. "When you stop learning, you stop living." Acclimatising to the Premier League will be a challenge, but with his intellect, attitude and work ethic, the smart money is on this latest signing flourishing under the shrewd man management of Mourinho.





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