So often has Henrikh Mkhitaryan been linked with a move to Liverpool that I no longer need to look up how to spell his name; and yet the most recent reports suggest the Reds may not be signing the prolific Armenian after all.
After stories claimed Brendan Rodgers had agreed a fee with his current club Shakhtar Donetsk, the Ukrainian champion’s chief executive Sergei Palkin has dismissed those rumours.
“He has had no contact with Liverpool,” Palkin said. “I am sure that his negotiations with the club are just rumours. Shakhtar didn’t receive any offer from Liverpool.”
Those comments came out after the player himself had commented on the move on his official Facebook page.
“I am happy to see that people show keen interest in my career, but I would like to ask all not only to refrain from making comments but also to prevent the spread of unverified and false information.
“I am not meddling with these affairs. If I have a contract with a club, I just fulfil it.”
As categorical as that statement appears, there is more to it than that. Because Palkin went on to reveal that Mkhitaryan had not returned for pre-season training and was yet to give a reason for his absence.
Similarly, the comments from the player have been taken from a longer statement reported in full in Armenia. The extract below makes for particularly interesting reading:
“My official agent deals with my transfer issues. As a professional footballer, I am not interested in the agent’s or the club’s issues. I have an official agreement with my club and I fulfil my duties. If there is any agreement achieved between the clubs, I will be then notified about the details of the agreement and will give my accord or not in case it does not satisfy me.”
In light of those comments, it doesn’t seem quite so certain that the Liverpool deal is dead. More likely the player is simply waiting for negotiations to take place and to announce things officially. His use of the words “unverified and false information” begs the question what is false, and what is simply yet to be revealed.
If Liverpool do miss out on Mkhitaryan, the club will move on; as every club does when a target is lost.
And yet in the case of the 24-year-old, he isn’t just any old player. Given his skill and eye for goal, it is no exaggeration to say he could be the heir apparent to Steven Gerrard. And while Rodgers continues his youthful revolution, Mkhitaryan would hit the ground running at Anfield, with the potential to be the signing of the summer.
Having been voted his country’s Player of the Year for the last three seasons, and having finished his last campaign with 25 goals from midfield, this is one player Liverpool should do everything in their power to sign.
Luckily for them, the latest reports may not be as disappointing as they first thought.
Do Liverpool fans believe Mkhitaryan is a crucial summer signing? Or would the money be better spent elsewhere?
image: © Валерий Дудуш