Henrikh Mkhitaryan slams Unai Emery and explains Arsenal exit

Manager of Arsenal, Unai Emery makes a point during the Premier League match between Arsenal FC and Wolverhampton Wanderers at Emirates Stadium on November 02, 2019 in London, United...

Mkhitaryan looked a shadow of his former self in his final Premier League season for the Gunners before moving to Serie A with AS Roma.

Henrikh Mkhitaryan of Arsenal comes on for Mesut Ozil during the UEFA Europa League Quarter Final First Leg match between Arsenal and S.S.C. Napoli at Emirates Stadium on April 11, 2019 in...

Roma winger Henrikh Mkhitaryan has taken aim at Unai Emery after growing tired of life on the bench under the unpopular Arsenal manager, while speaking to FourFourTwo.

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.

Unai Emery the Arsenal Head Coach gives instructions to Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Henrikh Mkhitaryan during the pre-season friendly match between Angers and Arsenal at Stade Raymond...

“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.

Henrikh Mkhitaryan of Roma celebrates after scoring during the Serie A match AS Roma v US Sassuolo at the Olimpico Stadium in Rome, Italy on September 15, 2019

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