Mkhitaryan joined last summer, having been voted Bundesliga player of the year the previous season. He struggled initially to establish himself under José Mourinho and, after having to wait until the derby with Manchester City on 10 September for his full debut, the forward was withdrawn at half-time.
The Armenian then had to wait until 2 November to play again. Despite this, Mkhitaryan ended the season strongly, scoring 12 times, including the second in the 2-0 Europa League final victory against Ajax. “For sure I will be a better player for this experience,” the 28‑year‑old said. “Some people say, ‘You have been another player in Dortmund’, but I’m saying I never regret coming here. I am very happy.
“Last year, with my difficulties, they helped me a lot. I could stay more strong in my mind, like mentally. I never said that I had hard times here. It shows that you are strong enough to win them over or not. I think I have done everything to work hard, to show everyone I can play and that I can do my best for the team.
“In these kind of moments, if you are giving up you are going to lose the meaning of the life. I mean you have to stay positive, you have to stay strong and work very hard because in one click everything can change and that’s what happened.”
At Dortmund and Shakhtar Donetsk, another of his former clubs, Mkhitaryan improved in the second year. “I am expecting something good [again]. Because I know that you can always do better and better, there is no limit. I will try my best.”
Mourinho was unhappy with the amount of goals Mkhitaryan, Anthony Martial and Jesse Lingard contributed last season. “The manager in general is saying that we need to do more,” he said. “Everyone understands that because we know this season is going to be a little bit harder because we are not going to play in the Europa League we are going to play in the Champions League, which is different. We are working very hard on it and we are sure we can have good results.
“It doesn’t matter how you did last year. It has been a good year for us, for me as well, because we won three titles. But I know for this upcoming season I can do better. I’m working hard and I know that I will achieve more. I can improve. I’m not saying just goals or assists. As well the playing style, the understanding between my team-mates, I mean everything.”
Mourinho has not told Mkhitaryan, who often operates wide but can also play at No10, his preferred position. “Not yet because I am ready to play wherever he wants me to play. I don’t have a preference.”
guardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010
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