Mkhitaryan move shows United mean business

Fresh from his best season with Dortmund, dynamic Armenia playmaker Henrikh Mkhitaryan brings pace and flair to a Manchester United side already shaping up to be a force next season.

Henrikh Mkhitaryan enjoyed a prolific three seasons at Borussia Dortmund
Henrikh Mkhitaryan enjoyed a prolific three seasons at Borussia Dortmund ©Getty Images

Manchester United's capture of Henrikh Mkhitaryan from Borussia Dortmund is the latest indication the club mean business under José Mourinho and could be a real force in the upcoming season.

Bookending the 53-year-old's debut press conference as United manager yesterday, Mourinho has made three big signings, with attacking midfielder Mkhitaryan the latest Old Trafford recruit after Ivory Coast centre-back Eric Bailly and Zlatan Ibrahimović from Villarreal and Paris Saint-Germain respectively.

Of the latest newcomer, the manager said: "Henrikh is a real team player with great skill, vision and also 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."

The Portuguese has also recast the coaching staff, leading to Ryan Giggs ending a 29-year association with United after three seasons as assistant coach, with a view to launching his own managerial career.

Henrikh Mkhitaryan can enhance United's attack
Henrikh Mkhitaryan can enhance United's attack©Getty Images

Mkhitaryan, 27, arrives in English football in what should be his prime, for an undisclosed transfer fee. The Armenian international playmaker – recipient of a four-year contract – has just had his best campaign of three at Dortmund, scoring 23 goals and contributing 32 assists in all competitions. His fellow professionals voted him Bundesliga Player of the Season.

How Manchester United could look (4-2-3-1):
De Gea; Darmian, Bailly, Smalling, Shaw; Herrera, Schneiderlin; Mkhitaryan, Rooney, Martial; Ibrahimovic.

Captain of his country, Mkhitaryan could be Mourinho's main playmaker, driving United forward with his tremendous pace and looking to supply the likes of Ibrahimović, Anthony Martial, Marcus Rashford and Wayne Rooney with his sleek touches.

See what United are getting for their money
See what United are getting for their money

Conversant in six languages – Armenian, Russian, English, German, French and Portuguese – the former Pyunik, Metalurh and Shakhtar Donetsk schemer should have no problem communicating with his new team-mates.

Many of his best moments last term came on the counterattack, which may suit Mourinho's style of play, and he tends to need just one touch to play a killer pass. Such flourishes should excite United fans craving the exciting fluid football of Sir Alex Ferguson's reign.

Mourinho's side taking shape
With six weeks left until United start their Premier League campaign at Bournemouth, there is still time for Mourinho to reinforce his squad further, but the team are already taking shape.

The centre-back pairing of Bailly and Chris Smalling appears to offer an exciting balance of technical ability and defensive leadership, while Luke Shaw will pose a consistent threat from left-back after overcoming the broken leg suffered last September.

Watch all Zlatan Ibrahimović's EURO goals
Watch all Zlatan Ibrahimović's EURO goals

Morgan Schneiderlin and Ander Herrera can provide a solid base in midfield, allowing Rooney, Martial and Mkhitaryan to focus on creating and finishing chances. Ibrahimović, a kindred spirit of Mourinho from their one season together at Internazionale, also brings the experience of winning 13 domestic championships and scoring 450+ goals for clubs and country. The Swede will compete for a forward role along with Marcus Rashford, United's revelation player of 2015/16.

Appointed in May, Mourinho may already have laid the foundations for a serious Premier League title tilt from the 20-time English champions.