Jose Mourinho has explained his reasons for not playing Henrikh Mkhitaryan against Arsenal, but says the midfielder is getting closer to breaking into the first team.

 

Henrikh Mkhitaryan’s life at Manchester United has not started the way the Armenian international would have envisioned it. The attacking midfielder has still only made 6 appearances — most of them off the bench — for the Red Devils since joining from Borussia Dortmund in the summer.

Signed for a fee of around £27 million, Mkhitaryan was expected to slot into the United team seamlessly after having another brilliant season with Dortmund. However, he has since been an outcast, with some reports even claiming that Mkhitaryan could be sold by United.

The Armenia international himself has not been particularly vocal on this matter and only recently stated via social media that he will fight for his place in the first team.

The 27-year-old was once again left out of the squad entirely on Saturday in Manchester United’s 1-1 draw against Arsenal. Mourinho has now explained his reasoning behind making that decision.

“I told him, ‘This [Arsenal] was not the game for you, I don’t think you need 10 or 20 minutes from the bench, I think you need a good game and you need to either start or if not to come (on) for the second half’,” the Portuguese said, according to The Telegraph

“He needs less pressure and better conditions for him to express his qualities.”

HULL, ENGLAND - AUGUST 27: Henrikh Mkhitaryan of Manchester United has his shot blocked by Curtis Davis of Hull City during the Premier League match between Manchester United FC and Hull City FC at KC Stadium on August 27, 2016 in Hull, England. (Photo by Mark Runnacles/Getty Images)

HULL, ENGLAND – AUGUST 27: Henrikh Mkhitaryan of Manchester United has his shot blocked by Curtis Davis of Hull City during the Premier League match between Manchester United FC and Hull City FC at KC Stadium on August 27, 2016 in Hull, England. (Photo courtesy – Mark Runnacles/Getty Images)

Mourinho did admit that Mkhitaryan was getting closer to a starting berth in the team, however, and confirmed that he would appear against Feyenoord.

“Yes (he is getting closer),” continued the United manager. “I told him today that he is going to be involved in the game against Feyenoord. He is trying. Obviously he is not happy but he is transforming his frustration in a good way, which is (to) close the mouth and work hard and try to adapt.”

Mkhitaryan and United will face Feyenoord on Thursday at Old Trafford in their UEFA Europa League group stage fixture.

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