Would Henrikh Mkhitaryan be the Right Signing For LFC?

Michael Steele

Rumors are swirling throughout Europe that Liverpool are closing in on the signing of Armenian midfielder Henrikh Mkhitaryan from Shakhtar Donetsk. This wouldn't be a cheap signing (Liverpool would have to pay £20-30m) so it is worth wondering whether this is the best allocation of summer resources.

To talk knowledgeably about a foreign player it is important to look beyond just numbers. Below is a scouting video of the 24 year old.

HENRIKH MKHITARYAN | Goals, Skills, Assists | Shakhtar Donetsk | 2012/2013 (HD) (via ScoutNationHD)

From this video it is clear that Mkhitaryan is a game changing type of player. The first noticeable trait is his speed and ability to make forward runs. His quickness allows him to get behind defenses with ease. He also flashes dribbling ability around the box that allows him to be successful when working in tight spaces. His deceptive shot fakes are almost Suarez-esque. Another unique aspect to Mkhitaryan's game is his finishing ability. He finishes with the composure and deft of a striker as he comes from the midfield. It seems like he favors short passing to playing long balls which fits well in Brendan Rodgers' system. He also demonstrated unselfishness as he repeatedly completed layoff passes so his teammates could fire into an empty net.

For a midfielder, albeit one who plays an extremely attacking role, Mkhitaryan sported a stellar goalscoring record last season. He scored 29 goals and had 11 assists in all competitions.

While there is no doubt that Mkhitaryan has talent, there is some uncertainty around whether he is the right talent. We already have lots of CM/CAM/CF type players. However, one could argue that there aren't any game changers for the future occupying this role. But then there is Jordan Henderson and Suso, two players younger than Mkhitaryan with lots of potential. The difference seems to be that Mkhitaryan has already fulfilled some of his potential while Henderson and Suso have yet to do so. It feels like this signing would relegate Henderson to bench duties, a role that won't help him at all in improving for the future. Perhaps there is loan deal in the cards, one similar to the Carroll deal where if at the end of the season Liverpool don't feel they need him anymore, they can look for a permanent move. Suso is young enough that a few more years bouncing between the U-21 team and the occasional cameo appearance won't hurt him.

Here's the thing though. Liverpool seem to feel that Mkhitaryan isn't just someone who can be good, but someone who can be special. If he really is a building block then Liverpool have to sign him. The club can no longer sign many big names from the globe's biggest teams and they can ill afford to overpay for English talent. So what they must do is sign young players from slightly less touted sides like Shakhtar Donetsk or Celta de Vigo.

Despite Liverpool's depth in the attacking midfield, and the inherent risk in signing a player not accustomed to the Premier League, I support the pursuit of Mkhitaryan. He appears to be versatile and I could even see him playing on the wing if need be. The point is that he has the talent that changes football matches. Liverpool have to accumulate these players if they want to challenge for a top four spot in the near future.

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