Henrikh Mkhitaryan has labelled Jose Mourinho as a “winner” following his first season working under the Portuguese’s tutelage at Manchester United.
The 28-year-old, signed last summer for £27m, was initially consigned to a lengthy period on the sidelines following an shaky first start and a string of injuries.
He was phased back into the starting XI during late November and went on to spearhead Man United’s pursuit of Europa League glory.
And Mkhitaryan, speaking at a Q&A, was full of praise for his boss following a trophy laden first season.
“Jose is a winner,” he said.
“He works so hard to win every single game and to make sure that we are all ready to give 100%. He gives us emotion, and motivation. I have learned a lot from him and will continue to do so this season.”
Mkhitaryan hadn’t started a game for United in almost three months by the time he was picked to feature against Feyenoord in late November.
Supporters at that time were still unsure of the reasons lying behind why the talented Armenian had been left out for so long, especially at a time when Mourinho’s men desperately needed some creative verve going forward.
But from the moment he got going against the Dutch champions, that first touch of the ball, fewer questions were asked, and people started to sit up and watch in quiet admiration instead.
It would be the start of something special: a superb run of form in Europe that saw him claim six goals – four of them in the knockout stages – that fittingly concluded with a skilful, Mkhitaryan-esque strike in the Europa League final that killed Ajax off for good. As he ran off, closely followed by Paul Pogba and Chris Smalling, he looked diminutive as ever and yet, at the same time, 100ft tall.
The story of Mkhitaryan has been a poetic one, and he is far from finished.