Liverpool linked Mkhitaryan: I will come good at Dortmund

Heinrich Mkhitaryan

Henrikh Mkhitaryan snubbing Liverpool was a blow to the Merseysiders' transfer plans, but did they dodge a bullet?

The Armenian caught the eye last term during former employers’ Shakhtar Donetsk Champions League run, turning in top performances against the likes of Chelsea and Juventus.

Reds boss Brendan Rodgers was thought to see the attacking midfielder as a crucial purchase at the outset of the summer, looking to gear up for a run at the Champions League.

The Liverpool hierarchy reportedly shared this view with the Northern Irishman and were prepared to stump up the £20m necessary to meet Mkhitaryan’s release clause.

Yet it was Borussia Dortmund that ultimately won out with a £22.5m bid – brought in to replace Shinji Kagawa and Mario Gotze, who departed in successive seasons.

The midfielder would later reflect he chose the European runners-up over a Premier League adventure due to style – not money.

However, six months on in Mkhitaryan’s tenure at the Westfalenstadion, his start to life hasn’t been a dream – marked by inconsistency and failed comparisons to his predecessors.

"I cannot help it that I have become so expensive,” he told Waz this week on the subject of his summer move to Germany. But I will do everything so that Borussia Dortmund do not regret buying me.”

"Every player is different, you cannot compare us."

And Marco Reus jumped in to note that it is unfair to liken Mkhitaryan to Gotze, whilst Dortmund director of sport Michael Zorc admitted Mkhitaryan can do better but pointed to a period of adjustment.

Still, in spite of these defences, the question still burns – did Liverpool dodge a bullet?

The Armenia international is certainly a talent – he plundered the Ukranian top flight for a league-leading 25 goals as a midfielder last term – but hasn’t expressed himself so with Dortmund.

Of course, there’s plenty to be said for needing to acclimate to a division featuring better opponents week in and week out, but Mkhitaryan has a wealth of talent around him to raise his game.

Instead his time has been stop-start, each of his three goals and five assists on the domestic front coming in just four different games, with zero registered after November 1.

Seemingly, matters have only become more complicated for the 24-year-old during his time in Jurgen Klopp’s squad.

Of course, he may rebound and eventually come good, but consider the effect that Mkhitaryan’s inconsistency would’ve had if directly transferred to Liverpool.

The lack of continuity – as Philippe Coutinho would’ve likely been supplanted – could’ve had a profound impact on the Reds’ excellent start and solid run through to January.

Dortmund are a team far ahead of Rodgers’ in terms of development and have suffered the consequences of turnover with Mkhitaryan – so it seems reasonable to suggest things at Anfield would’ve been more tumultuous than in Wesphalia had the Armenian joined.

Whether he ultimately succeeds with Dortmund in turn is less important. Liverpool have a unique situation balancing short-term and extended goals, namely Champions League qualification and returning to the upper reaches of the table with regularity.

Further down the line the Armenian may have been a great asset – but at the moment it looks better that Liverpool somewhat fortuitously maintained squad integrity to embark on their current run.

For now at least, losing out on Mkhitaryan may’ve been a surprise blessing in disguise – a chance for others to develop, and Rodgers’ men to establish a cohesive unit capable of bettering itself for the future.

image: © Валерий Дудуш

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