Mkhitaryan, signed over the summer for a fee of £27m, initially found himself cast into anonymity at Man United, but has managed to assert himself in recent months with a series of spellbinding performances.
The 28-year-old missed out on United’s 3-2 League Cup final triumph over Southampton last weekend through injury, but should return in time for the game against AFC Bournemouth.
And Lingard, when asked about his teammate, was quick to heap praise on the Armenian.
“When he came we knew what he could do and now he’s showing he’s got goals, assists and he’s been that bright spark but he’s a great lad. He’s got some banter as well,” he said.
“He looks quicker with the ball,” Rashford added. “When he’s dribbling with the ball it’s like he finds another gear, maybe it’s mentally but he looks quicker with the ball than without it. And if he’s not scoring goals or assisting he’s having a massive impact on the game.”
There is, as Rashford alludes to, something notably different about the way Mkhitaryan, in comparison to other diminutive No.10s, goes about his business. Without the ball he appears somewhat incongruous on the pitch, wearing a troubled, occupied expression, somehow making himself look smaller with his posture.
But then the ball arrives at his feet and suddenly it all makes sense. He has shocked opponents – and perhaps even supporters – with his mazy, intractable flow going forward this season.
Mourinho would be the first to acknowledge that his attacking lineup looked blunt-edged without Mkhitaryan’s mesmerising influence at No.10 against Southampton, and he’ll want to restore the 28-year-old to the starting XI as soon as possible.