Juan Mata has sent Henrikh Mkhitaryan a message of good luck ahead of the playmaker’s Arsenal debut against Swansea City.
The Armenian has been consigned to the periphery under Jose Mourinho ever since an anonymous display against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge in November.
He completed a move to the Emirates last week in a swap deal involving Alexis Sanchez and could make his debut for Arsenal at the Liberty Stadium on Tuesday.
And Mata, writing in his weekly blog, was quick to send a message of goodwill to the 29-year-old after joining Arsenal.
“I don’t want to forget to wish the best of luck once again to Henrikh Mkhitaryan, a footballer with great talent and a friend that deserves all the good things that happen to him,” he said.
“Enjoy in your new club and see you soon!”
Mkhitaryan has always admired Arsenal and will, you sense, find refuge in the slick dynamism of Arsene Wenger’s style going forward.
And yet, at the same time, Mkhitaryan’s move down to London comes with a tint of sadness as well. He would have obviously preferred to leave Old Trafford on his own terms rather than as a bargaining chip, and as someone who always appreciated the stage he was on you can’t help but feel as if Mourinho’s words will continue to ring in his ears for some time. Namely: that Mkhitaryan has gone from a ‘giant’ club to a ‘fantastic’ club.
Arsenal may prove to be the salvation he needs, but it also serves as a symbolic death knell for his time at the highest rung of the footballing ladder.