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Henrikh Mkhitaryan

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Henrikh Mkhitaryan
Algérie - Arménie - 20140531 - Henrikh Mkhitaryan.jpg
Mkhitaryan with Armenia in 2014
Personal information
Date of birth (1989-01-21) 21 January 1989 (age 27)
Place of birth Yerevan, Armenian SSR, Soviet Union
Height 1.78 m (5 ft 10 in)[1]
Playing position Attacking midfielder/Winger
Club information
Current team
Manchester United
Number 22
Youth career
1995–2006 Pyunik
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
2006–2009 Pyunik 70 (30)
2009–2010 Metalurh Donetsk 37 (12)
2010–2013 Shakhtar Donetsk 72 (38)
2013–2016 Borussia Dortmund 88 (23)
2016– Manchester United 0 (0)
National team
2006–2007 Armenia U17 5 (1)
2007–2008 Armenia U19 6 (1)
2008–2010 Armenia U21 13 (9)
2007– Armenia 59 (19)

* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only and correct as of 19:18, 28 May 2016 (UTC).
† Appearances (goals)

‡ National team caps and goals correct as of 1 June 2016

Henrikh Mkhitaryan (Armenian: Հենրիխ Մխիթարյան, [hɛnˈɾiχ məχitʰɑˈɾjɑn]; born 21 January 1989) is an Armenian professional footballer who plays as a midfielder for English club Manchester United, as well as captaining the Armenia national team. Mkhitaryan is Armenia's all-time top goalscorer, scoring 19 goals in 59 international matches since his debut in January 2007, including their first hat-trick. His previous clubs include Pyunik, where he came through the youth system, Metalurh Donetsk, Shakhtar Donetsk and Borussia Dortmund.[2]

Mkhitaryan has been chosen Armenian Footballer of the Year five times (every year since 2009, except 2010). In 2012 he was voted as the best Shakhtar player of 2011–12 season by the fans, and Ukraine Premier League MVP. In 2012, Mkhitaryan was named in UEFA's Top 100 players by UEFA European Football Yearbook 2012–13.[3] Mkhitaryan was voted the CIS Footballer of the Year for 2012, making him the first Armenian footballer to be named the best player from post-Soviet countries.[4] He received the award again for 2013.[5] Mkhitaryan received the nickname Heno from his fans in Armenia[6][7] and has been nicknamed Micki by his Borussia Dortmund fans.[8]

Early life

Mkhitaryan was born on 21 January 1989 in the Armenian capital Yerevan to Marina Taschyan and Hamlet Mkhitaryan, a prominent striker of FC Ararat Yerevan during the 1980s, who died of a brain tumor at age 33 when Mkhitaryan was seven years old.[9] His mother is the head of the national teams department in the Armenian Football Federation and his elder sister, Monica, works at UEFA's headquarters.[10]

At the beginning of the 1990s, the Mkhitaryan family moved to France, where Hamlet Mkhitaryan played for the now defunct ASOA Valence and helped them to be promoted to the second division Ligue 2. Mkhitaryan spent his early childhood in Valence.[11] He always wanted to become a football player and began to follow in his father's footsteps. As a child, he would watch his father play and always wanted to follow him to training. The Mkhitaryans returned to Yerevan in 1995. In the same year Mkhitaryan joined the youth system of FC Pyunik. He graduated from the Institute of Physical Culture in Armenia. He studied economics at the Yerevan branch of the St. Petersburg Institute. Upon graduation, he plans to study there as a lawyer.[12][13] In 2003, Mkhitaryan, aged 14 had trials with São Paulo in Brazil where he played alongside the likes of Hernanes and Oscar.[14] He returned back to Pyunik in 2004, then manager Mihai Stoichiță insisted on his return to Armenia. Growing up, Mkhitaryan considered Zinedine Zidane his football idol.[15]

Club career

Pyunik

Mkhitaryan joined the FC Pyunik youth system in 1995 and received his first salary at the age of 15.[16] He was later promoted to the first team of FC Pyunik, making his professional debut in 2006 at the age of 17. He last played for the club in the 2009 season. During that season he scored 11 league goals in 10 league games. In his four seasons in the Pyunik first team, they won the Armenian Premier League on four occasions (2006, 2007, 2008 and 2009). They also won the Armenian Supercup twice (2007 and 2009) and the Armenian Cup once (2009). In total, he managed 70 league appearances for the club with 30 goals and 89 total appearances with 35 goals.[17] Armenian national team and Pyunik head coach Vardan Minasyan admitted that he would love to see his star player "playing in a stronger league." Minasyan stated young Henrikh was well on his way to becoming a legend in his own right. He said of Mkhitaryan, "He can win games on his own. He seizes control at the crucial moment and scores for fun."[18]

Due to his success in the 2009 Armenian Premier League at Pyunik Yerevan, he joined Ukrainian Premier League club Metalurh Donetsk.

Metalurh Donetsk

Mkhitaryan playing for Metalurh Donetsk in 2009

Mkhitaryan joined Metalurh Donetsk. He scored a goal on his debut in a 3–0 victory against Belarusian Premier League side FC Partizan Minsk, in the Europa League on 16 July 2009.[19] On 19 July, he made his league debut in a 0–0 draw with Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk.[20] His first league goal came in a 2–2 draw with Karpaty Lviv on 26 July.[21] On 6 August, he scored the first goal in a 3–0 second leg Europa League win against Slovenian Interblock Ljubljana, winning 5–0 on aggregate.[22] He finished the season with 14 goals in 38 appearances, including 29 league matches and 9 goals.

The following season he was named captain of the club on 14 July, at the age 21, making him the youngest captain in Metalurh Donetsk history.[23] He scored his first goal, an 89th-minute penalty, in a 3–0 victory over Obolon Kyiv on 16 July.[24] He played his final match for the club in a 2–1 win against Dnipro on 30 August.[25] In his second season he played eight matches and scored three goals, all of which were in the league. He made 37 league appearances during his time at Metalurh, scoring 12 goals.[26] In total he played 46 matches for the club, scoring 17 times.

Shakhtar Donetsk

2010–11 season

Mkhitaryan training with Shakhtar in 2010

On 30 August, he sealed a $7.5 million switch to reigning Premier League champions Shakhtar Donetsk.[27] His debut came on 10 September in a 1–0 away league defeat to Obolon Kyiv, being replaced after 62 minutes by Eduardo.[28] His home debut was more successful, with Shakhtar coming back from a goal behind to win 4–1 against Tavriya Simferopol on 19 September.[29] He scored his first goal for the club in this match. Three days later he made his first appearance in the Ukrainian Cup, netting the second goal in a 6–0 win over Kryvbas.[30] On 25 September, he scored a late injury time winner in a 2–1 away victory over Metalist Kharkiv.[31] He made his European debut for the club in the Champions League on 28 September against Sporting Braga winning 3–0.[32] He made an appearance in the 2–0 Ukrainian Cup Final victory against Dynamo Kyiv, coming on in the 81st minute in place of Jádson.[33] His first season with the club was extremely successful for Shakhtar as they won the treble (Premier League, Ukrainian Cup and the Super Cup).[34]

2011–12 season

Mkhitaryan playing for Shakhtar Donetsk in 2011

In the 2011–12 season Shakhtar won the Premier League and the Ukrainian Cup.[35] Mkhitaryan scored the third goal in a 4–0 win against Obolon Kyiv in his first league match of the season.[36] On 4 March, he scored the equalising goal in a 1–1 draw with Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk.[37] He scored the only goal in a cup victory over Metalurh Zaporizhya on 11 April.[38] On 6 May, he played a part in Shakhtar's 2–1 extra time victory over his former team Metalurh Donetsk in the Ukrainian Cup Final, coming off after 62 minutes for Douglas Costa.[39] In an online poll on Shakhtar Donetsk's official website, Mkhitaryan was voted as the best player of Shakhtar in 2011–12 Premier League season with about 38% of total votes.[40] He scored 11 goals in 36 matches, including 10 goals in 28 matches. Shakhtar retained the Premier League and the Ukrainian Cup in the 2011–12 season.[35]

2012–13 season

"It wasn't easy for him from the start, but his integration was speeded up by his high level of football intelligence. His game awareness is perhaps his most valuable quality – that and the speed and power and technique Henrikh was gifted by nature and that he's developed. Because of those virtues, he's one of the players who most consistently fulfils the tasks set by the coaching staff. Working with him is fun."

Mircea Lucescu, Mkhitaryan's manager at Shakhtar Donetsk in June 2013.[41]

Mkhitaryan played in 2–0 2012 Super Cup victory over Metalurh Donetsk.[42] In his first match of the 2012–13 Premier League season, he scored twice and provided two assists in a 6–0 season opening victory against Arsenal Kyiv.[43] He managed a hat-trick against Chornomorets Odesa[44] in a 5–1 win to reach 10 goals for the season after just six games, equalling his tally for the previous season. On 19 September, in Shakhtar's first Champions League match of the season, Mkhitaryan scored twice in a 2–0 victory over Danish champions Nordsjælland.[45] This was the first time he had scored a goal in the Champions League and he was named Man of the Match.[46] He was also named in the Team of the Week for matchday 1 of the Champions League after his brace against Nordsjælland.[47][48] On 16 March 2013, Mkhitaryan played his 100th game in the Ukrainian Premier League in a match against Chornomorets Odesa.[49][50]

On 11 May 2013, Mkhitaryan scored his 23rd and 24th goals of the Premier League season in a 5–0 victory over Tavria. These goals set a Ukrainian Premier League record for most goals in a season.[51][52] Mkhitaryan finished the season with 25 league goals, and the attacking midfielder was praised for his technique and dedication.[53]

Borussia Dortmund

2013–14 season

On 25 June, Borussia Dortmund made a €25 million ($30 million) bid,[54][55] but in confirming the offer Shakhtar Donetsk CEO Sergei Palkin insisted that it fell short of the club's valuation, which was a single payment of €30 million ($36 million). In the same press conference, Palkin confirmed the acquisition of Brazilian Fred from Sport Club Internacional for €15 million (£12.5 million), a likely replacement.[56] On 5 July, it was reported that Borussia Dortmund has succeeded in talks with Shakhtar and Mkhitaryan was on his way to Germany for a medical test.[57][58][59] On 8 July, Borussia Dortmund announced that it was set to sign a four-year deal with Mkhitaryan for €25 million (£21.5 million)[60][61][62][63] Shakhtar and Borussia officially "resolved all the necessary formalities" and agreed on €27.5 million (£23.6 million),[64][65] making him the most expensive purchase in the club's history.[66]

On his debut in a pre-season friendly against FC Basel on 10 July 2013, Mkhitaryan set up a goal for Marco Reus in the 11th minute and scored his first goal for the club 16 minutes later, helping his side to a 3–1 victory away at St. Jakob-Park.[67][68][69] Mkhitaryan couldn't take part and wasn't listed in the squad at the 2013 DFL-Supercup which his club won due to an injury he received on a friendly game before that. Mkhitaryan debuted for BVB following his return from a three weeks sustained injury in the second round of 2013–14 Bundesliga on 18 August 2013 in a BVB victory over Eintracht Braunschweig at BVB's Signal Iduna Park.[70] Mkhitaryan's first two Bundesliga goals were decisive in a 2–1 win over Eintracht Frankfurt to keep Dortmund in first place in the Bundesliga.[71] His first Champions League goal for Dortmund came in a 1–2 away win against Arsenal.

Mkhitaryan finished his season with nine goals and ten assists and was included in the WhoScored Bundesliga Team of the Season.[72][73] His team finished runner-up at the 2013–14 Bundesliga, and runner-up for the 2013–14 DFB-Pokal.

2014–15 season

The first trophy Mkhitaryan won with Dortmund was the 2014 DFL-Supercup, scoring the first goal in the 2–0 victory over Bayern Munich.[74] In September, Mkhitaryan suffered an injury that sidelined him for a month[75] and on 13 December he was injured again.[76] He scored the second goal of a 3–0 win against rivals Schalke 04 on 28 February.[77]

2015–16 season

On 6 August 2015, Dortmund played against Wolfsberger AC in the third qualifying round second leg of the Europa League, Thomas Tuchel's first home match as coach. Mkhitaryan scored a late hat-trick for a 5–0 victory, 6–0 on aggregate.[78] Three days later, he scored the second goal in a 2–0 win at 3. Liga club Chemnitzer FC in the first round of the DFB-Pokal.[79] On 15 August, Mkhitaryan scored a brace in a 4–0 win against Borussia Mönchengladbach in the first league game of the season.[80] Five days later, he headed the winning goal as Dortmund came from 0–3 down to win 4–3 at Odds BK in the first leg of their Europa League play-off.[81]

In the second round of the domestic cup on 28 October, Mkhitaryan scored the final goal of a 7–1 rout of SC Paderborn 07.[82] Eight days later, his goal confirmed a 4–0 home win over Gabala FK, securing a place in the last 32 of the Europa League.[83]

On 20 April 2016, Mkhitaryan was one of three goalscorers as Borussia won 3–0 away at Hertha BSC in the semi-final of the DFB-Pokal.[84]

At the end of the season, Mkhitaryan was voted the Bundesliga Players' Player of the Season.[85][86] He finished the league as the assist leader with 15 assists.[87][88]

Manchester United

On 2 July 2016, Dortmund chief executive Hans-Joachim Watzke said that the sale of Mkhitaryan to England's Manchester United would be inevitable as the player would leave for free had he stayed one more year.[89] Four days later, Mkhitaryan joined them on a four-year contract, with the option to extend for a further year.[90] On his debut, he would become the first Armenian to play in the Premier League.[91]

He made his debut in a 2–0 victory in a pre-season match against Wigan Athletic on 15 July 2016.[92]

International career

Mkhitaryan with Armenia in 2014

Mkhitaryan debuted for the Armenia national team in an away friendly match against Panama on 14 January 2007.[93]

He scored six goals for Armenia in UEFA Euro 2012 qualifying Group B, thus becoming top goalscorer in that group.[94] Although Armenia did not advance past the qualifying stage for UEFA Euro 2012, Mkhitaryan's performances landed him in the UEFA Euro 2012 Qualifying Dream Team with six goals.

On 10 September 2013, in the absence of regular skipper goalkeeper Roman Berezovsky, Mkhitaryan captained his country for the first time, as they lost 0–1 at home to Denmark in World Cup qualification.[95] He became the top scorer in the history of the Armenian national team, after scoring his 12th goal for the national team in a 1–3 defeat to Italy in another qualifier on 15 October. This surpassed the 11 scored for the nation by Artur Petrosyan.[96]

On 27 May 2014, he scored twice in a 4–3 friendly win against the United Arab Emirates at the Stade de la Fontenette in Carouge, Switzerland.[97] Two years and a day later, he scored Armenia's first international hat-trick in a 7–1 friendly win over Guatemala in Los Angeles.[98]

Style of play

Mkhitaryan is an attacking midfielder capable of playing second striker as well. He thrives playing just behind the strikers, where he always looks to link up with his teammates in and around the box. Tearing apart opposition defences time and time again, he makes space for the striker/wingers to exploit and create goal scoring opportunities. Mkhitaryan has been praised for his technique, movement, accurate passing, dribbling, creativity, ball control and work rate. He is equipped with a dangerous shot, trickery to beat defenders, and a superb vision to go for the pass.[99][100]

During the 2012–13 season, former Scottish footballer Pat Nevin said of Mkhitaryan, "Eleven goals in eight league matches already is fantastic, but when you add that he is a midfielder, it is phenomenal. You may not have heard of him yet, even if all the scouts at the top European clubs have, but you soon will. He has pace, skill, a rocket of a shot and the ability to arrive in the box like Frank Lampard. This all singles him out as a player who must be watched or more importantly marked."[101]

Personal life

The death of his father impacted Mkhitaryan greatly. He feels that if his father was still alive, "everything would be different." He gave him useful advice from a professional point of view. People who have watched Mkhitaryan and his father, say that their styles resemble each other very much. He has said, "I believe he sees me and is proud of me…"[102][103]

Mkhitaryan is a polyglot,[104] who is fluent in six languages: Armenian, Russian, English, German, French, Portuguese and some Italian.[105][106] Shakhtar's Donbass Arena has a tradition of playing music each time home players score goals, with a track corresponding to the nationality of a scorer. "Sabre Dance" by Aram Khachaturian was played whenever Mkhitaryan scored. This song became very popular in Donetsk due to Mkhitaryan scoring frequently.[10][107]

In 2012, by the decision of the Yerevan City Council, and in connection with the city's 2794th anniversary, Mkhitaryan was awarded with the "Honorary Citizen of Yerevan" title, for his great success in football and his brilliant achievements in sports.[108]

Mkhitaryan has visited Nagorno-Karabakh three times on charity visits. In December 2011, Mkhitaryan visited Stepanakert, capital of the disputed territory, and donated gifts to the families of fallen soldiers. He was subsequently awarded the NKR Prime Minister’s medal.[109]

Had he not been a football player, Mkhitaryan stated that he would have been a sprinter.[110]

Statistics

Club

As of 20 May 2016.[111]
Club performance League Cup League Cup Europe Other Total
Club Season Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals
Pyunik Yerevan 2006 12 1 0 0 12 1
2007 24 12 0 0 4 0 28 12
2008 24 6 5 3 2 0 31 9
2009 10 11 6 2 16 13
Total 70 30 11 5 6 0 87 35
Metalurh Donetsk 2009–10 29 9 2 1 6 4 37 14
2010–11 8 3 0 0 8 3
Total 37 12 2 1 6 4 45 17
Shakhtar Donetsk 2010–11 17 3 3 1 7 0 27 4
2011–12 26 10 4 1 6 0 1 0 36 11
2012–13 29 25 5 2 8 2 1 0 42 29
Total 72 38 11 4 21 2 2 0 104 44
Borussia Dortmund 2013–14 31 9 5 2 10 2 0 0 46 13
2014–15 28 3 6 1 7 0 1 1 42 5
2015–16 31 11 5 5 15 7 51 23
Total 88 23 16 8 32 9 1 1 137 41
Manchester United 2016–17 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Career total 267 103 40 18 0 0 65 15 3 1 373 137

International

As of match played 1 June 2016.[112]
Armenia
Year Apps Goals
2007 2 0
2008 5 0
2009 7 1
2010 5 3
2011 8 4
2012 8 2
2013 8 2
2014 7 4
2015 6 0
2016 3 3
Total 59 19

Honours

Club

Pyunik[113]
Shakhtar Donetsk[113]
Borussia Dortmund[113]

Individual

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