The Armenian playmaker arrived in England in the summer of 2016 as the reigning Bundesliga Player of the Year but everyone who expected him to follow in the footsteps of Kevin de Bruyne, the award’s previous winner, were to be severely disappointed.
Mkhitaryan shone in fits and bursts at Manchester United, that infamous scorpion kick goal against Sunderland a rare moment of world-class quality, but his ill-fated 18 month spell at Arsenal arguably proved to be even more underwhelming.
The 30-year-old started just 19 Premier League games during Emery’s first season at the helm and left for Roma in the summer – a decision Mkhitaryan appears to have very few regrets about.
“I couldn’t accept that I had to sit on the bench for some matches,” he said. “I know my qualities and what I can do.
“I’m 30 years old now and I like to play football, not just sit on the bench and waste my time.
“Emery and [head of football] Raul Sanllehi assured me I was important for Arsenal, but I signed for Roma because they believed in me more.”
Mkhitaryan has produced just one goal and one assist during an injury-hit start to life in Italy but he’s enjoying the freedom afforded to him by forward-thinking tactician Paulo Fonseca.
Emery’s obsession with tactics over the off-the-cuff style which came to define Arsenal’s best years under Arsene Wenger clearly didn’t sit well with Mkhitaryan, who was asked to perform a more disciplined role than he was used to.
And with Emery already under fire, the last thing he needed was for a former player to take another jab at his ailing reputation.
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