Borussia Dortmund have blocked Manchester United’s move for Henrikh Mkhitaryan, according to The Times’ Paul Hirst.
Mkhitaryan, who enjoyed a fine 2015/16 season for Dortmund, scoring 23 goals and registering 32 assists in all competitions, has recently informed the club that he will not extend his current contract, which expires in June 2017.
The forward has attracted interest from across Europe but his preferred destination is to join up with Jose Mourinho at Man United.
However, Dortmund, who have lost Mats Hummels and Ilkay Gundogan to Bayern Munich and Manchester City this summer, have insisted that Mkhitaryan will be going nowhere. The club will instead wait for his contract to expire rather than cashing in on him now.
“We have been negotiating with Henrikh Mkhitaryan for four months for him to extend his contract with us,” Dortmund chief executive Hans-Joachim Watzke said.
“Now we know that it is not extended, it was never our commitment that Mkhitaryan may leave us prematurely. We have intensely discussed the question of an early transfer in all club bodies and came to the conclusion that Mkhitaryan will stay in Dortmund next season.”
The player’s agent, Mino Raiola, reacted angrily to the news and criticised Dortmund.
“Micki has for months maintained that he may leave the club this summer,” Raiola said.
“Dortmund presented an official offer which was rejected, but now the BVB bosses fear of their own fans. Suddenly they tell Micki, that he should go next season on a free transfer. This is very bad management. Manchester United is a unique opportunity, Micki wants to go there.”
Mkhitaryan would have been a quality signing as his ability to play out wide or centrally would have given United an option they have been sorely lacking in recent years.
But you have to admire Dortmund’s stance, although they now risk keeping an unhappy player. Mkhitaryan may well force the issue in the coming weeks but United should prepare to look elsewhere for targets.