Russian Youtuber Evgeny Savin has today posted a documentary he’s made with Henrikh Mkhitaryan, who is currently on loan at AS Roma from Arsenal.
Website Forza Roma did a great job transcribing the most interesting quotes, and it turns out the player has spoken a little about the hard times he had at Manchester United under José Mourinho.
The player confirmed there was a tense relationship with the Portuguese boss, and that’s what led him to leave for Arsenal in the middle of the 2017/18 season.
“Once Mourinho saw me at breakfast and said to me: ‘Because of you, the press criticises me’. I replied: ‘Really ,mister? I’m not doing it on purpose’. Back in Manchester United there were paparazzi three days a week. They filmed you as you got in the car, how you were dressed… Once you arrived at the sports centre they were already there. Every step was controlled.”
Quizzed if Mourinho was the most difficult coach he’s worked with, Mkhitaryan agrees with it: “Yes, I could say yes. He’s a winner by nature. He wants you to win and you do what he asks you. It’s difficult for anyone. There have been differences and conflicts, but they have not had a strong impact on good work and the three trophies won.”
Asked if it’s true that Mourinho once told him to train more, Mkhitaryan confirmed the story.
“Yes, it’s true. It all started from there. I thought, ‘I have nothing else to add to Manchester. I work, help the team, score and someone is still dissatisfied’.
“I didn’t want to waste time and play football. Playing for Manchester United is still a once in a lifetime chance. Entering the pitch together with Ibrahimovic, Pogba, Mata, De Gea… If I had to go back in time, I would have renewed the contract with the Red Devils. But I don’t regret what I did.”
In January 2018, Mkhitaryan left Manchester United to join Arsenal in a €34m deal which was packaged with the Alexis Sanchez move the other way. Things didn’t go as hoped, with the loan to Roma being a result of that, but the 31 year old is still proud that he got the chance to sign for the Gunners.
“I knew that Wenger and Arsenal were interested in me at the time of the conflicts with Mourinho. Wenger wanted me with the Gunners. Going to them was fulfilling the dream I had as a child. Many French players had worn that shirt in the past: Henry, Pires, Bergkamp, Petit, Vieira. I was very passionate. Then, with the arrival of the United Arab Emirates, they started having economic problems and started investing in young people. Moving to Wenger’s Arsenal was a dream, a fairytale.”
There’s been much talk in Italy recently about Roma wanting to keep Mkhitaryan for longer, and a return to Arsenal doesn’t seem likely.