Photo: Borussia Dortmund star Henrikh Mkhitaryan (Getty Images)
Armenian superstar Henrikh Mkhitaryan has silenced many critics this season with some dazzling and scintillating performances. The Borussia Dortmund star came under pressure after he had failed to deliver since his big money move from Shakhtar Donetsk where he showed great promise. Brought in as a direct replacement for former poster-boy Mario Gotze, the 27-year-old looked a shadow of himself at the Signal Iduna Park. However after a change in management, the former Metalurh Donetsk attacker seemed to have found his feet and is now said to be indispensable in Thomas Tuchel’s plans.
At the start of the season it seemed as if the Armenian embraced the change from Jurgen Klopp to Tuchel the most. In an interview with Bleachers Report he stated, "When Tuchel came we started to play a different kind of football. We try to keep the ball more, we try to pass it more and play very offensive football." It seemed as if the former Shakhtar star has found a new lease of life under his new boss and started the season brightly. His consistency at a very high level has been astonishing and he has even outshone Dortmund’s biggest star Marco Reus.
An innovative character on the pitch with a great creative brain, the BVB number ten is at his best once he gets up a head of steam. When in full flow, he is a joy on the ball gliding past challenge after challenge while linking up brilliantly in tight areas around the penalty area. This season he has shown that he’s got great stamina as he fights for his team in the defensive third while always providing an option in attack. He is more than a handful for any opposition and is very difficult to stop because he’s comfortable with the ball on either foot.
His pace, trickery and flair allows him to get past his markers with very little effort, however what has improved massively this term is his decision making. He had shown flashes of his brilliance in past seasons but was often guilty of overthinking and making situations more complicated than it should be. The Armenian playmaker now keeps it very simple and seems to know when to hold onto the ball a second longer and when to pass it. His vision now seems to be better than ever, however the ability to select the best option at the right time has made him into a creative machine.
Since his days at the Donbass Arena with Shakhtar, he has proved to be a goal-scoring playmaker and at Dortmund it is no different. Strong in the air as much as he is adept with both feet, finding the back of the net comes naturally to the 5ft 10in playmaker. He’s capable of hitting the back of the net from anywhere in the final third, such is the quality and ability of Mkhitaryan. He has this unique habit of ghosting into dangerous positions in and around the penalty area while being capable of the spectacular.
With 23 goals this season in all competitions along with a whopping 24 assists, it can be said that Mkhitaryan is perhaps the player of the season for Dortmund. According to Squawka, the Armenian has created a total of 78 chances in the Bundesliga alone, an extraordinary return from his 31 appearances with one game left in the season. With his world class performances and consistency week after week, it could be said that the stats do not do him any justice. His importance to the way Tuchel plays cannot be overstated and there is no coincidence that there are speculations surrounding his future at this present moment. The likes of Juventus, Manchester City and Arsenal are said to be interested in his services with his contract at the Signal Iduna Park set to expire June 2017.
Borussia Dortmund could end their season with a trophy with the German Cup final against Bayern Munich still to come. The Yellow Wall heroes may think they deserve something from what has been an excellent campaign and not many would disagree. For Mkhitaryan, a piece of silverware would cap off what has been a truly remarkable and sensational season. He could very well decide the German cup final later this month and not many would bet against him doing so. His future is unclear, however one must imagine that BVB CEO Han-Joachim Watzke is doing whatever it takes to keep him at the club. Signing a new deal would be great for Dortmund and it would put them in great shape as their new star would be fresh and ready for next season after a much deserved summer break with Armenia not competing at the Euros in France.