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Mkhitaryan insists difficult first United season has made him a better player

Date Posted,July 23, 2017

Henrikh Mkhitaryan insists he is a better player following his ­difficult first season at Manchester United.

Mkhitaryan, a £26million signing from Borussia ­Dortmund last summer, was exiled by Reds boss Jose Mourinho for two months last term.

After a poor ­showing in the Manchester derby, in which he was subbed at half-time, the Algeria star was marginalised by ­Mourinho.

But the midfielder ­returned from his enforced spell out with renewed ­intent, going on to score an extraordinary ‘scorpion kick’ against Sunderland at Old Trafford on Boxing Day.

Reflecting on his first ­season in England, ­Mkhitaryan said his difficult start had served to improve him as a player and make him mentally stronger.

Mkhitaryan says that his struggles have made him a better player (Image: Man Utd via Getty Images)
He is hoping to push onto better things this season (Image: REUTERS)

“Last year, with my ­difficulties, they helped me a lot,” he said. “I could stay stronger in my mind, like mentally. I never said that I had hard times here.

“It shows you are strong enough to win them over or not. I’ve done ­everything to work hard, to show everyone I can play, and that I can do my best for the team.”

Asked if he felt he was a ­better player for last season’s tough times, Mkhitaryan said: “For sure. Some people say, ‘You have been another player in Dortmund’, but I never ­regretted coming here.

“I’m very happy and, ­coming here, I became ­another player. In these kind of moments, if you’re giving up, you’re going to lose the meaning of your life.

Mkhitaryan insists that he is very happy with life at United (Image: Matthew Peters)
The Armenian is working hard to prove himself (Image: Manchester United)

“You have to stay positive, you have to stay strong and work very hard, because in one click everything can change and that’s what happened.

“It was a good year for us, for me as well, because we won three trophies. But I know, for this upcoming ­season, I can do better and ­better.

“I’m trying, I’m working hard on myself and I know that I will achieve more in general, like overall.

“I’m not saying just goals or assists. Also the playing style, the understanding ­between my team-mates, I mean everything.

Mkhitaryan scored one of United’s most important goals of last season in the Europa League (Image: Alex Grimm)
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“I’m expecting something good, because I know you can always do better and ­better, there’s no limit. I will try, I will try my best.” Despite winning the EFL Cup and Europa League last season, as well as the Community Shield, Mkhitaryan (below with Mourinho) knows United must step up a level this term.

“The manager in general is saying we need to do more,” said Mkhitaryan. “Everyone understands that because we know this season is going to be a little bit harder, because we’re going to play in the Champions League.

“We’re working very hard on it and we are sure we can have good results.

Mourinho has challenged his United stars to keep getting better (Image: Matthew Peters)
Mkhitaryan says that United are targeting trophies this season (Image: Matthew Peters)

“This season we’re going to try to win some trophies. This is the main goal for Manchester United. I will try to do everything to help the team.”

Mkhitaryan also hailed the impact new ­£75m signing Romelu ­Lukaku can have on United, ­having already got off the mark on ­his new club’s pre-season tour.

“It’s a pleasure to play with him,” added 28-year-old ­Mkhitaryan. “He can hold the ball, he can play in the space, he’s fast, he’s quick. He has the smell to score goals.

“He knows where he has to be in the right moment, at the right time. I think with him, Manchester United can have a great season.”

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