Manchester United's Henrikh Mkhitaryan Faces Fight For Future at Old Trafford

It is less than 18 months since Manchester United paid £26 million for Henrikh Mkhitaryan, but it seems that the midfielder already faces a fight for his future at Old Trafford.

The 28-year-old has already endured a turbulent period since joining from Borussia Dortmund in the summer of 2016, with Jose Mourinho clearly showing his disapproval on various occasions.

And now the United manager may have seen enough, having left Mkhitaryan out of his full squad for the past two games—against Newcastle in the Premier League and FC Basel in the Champions League. Mourinho opted for Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial, instead, with 20-year-old Scott McTominay on the substitutes' bench.

"I decided to play Rashford and Martial together," the United boss said prior to the match against Basel.

"The question for many weeks was why don't they play together—now it's why isn't Mkhitaryan playing? The answer is very simple, until the international board change the rules I can only play 11."

But Mourinho's decision to drop Mkhitaryan from his squad entirely seems to be telling. The former Chelsea manager has criticized him throughout his time at Old Trafford.

Mkhitaryan Fighting For Future
Henrikh Mkhitaryan at John Smith's Stadium, Huddersfield, October 21. Mkhitaryan has been left out of Jose Mourinho's Manchester United squad for the last two games. Matthew Lewis/Getty

In September 2016, less than a month into the new season, Mourinho singled him out after losing the Manchester derby 2-1, saying he wished he could have substituted Mkhitaryan after 20 minutes.

Fast forward nine months and Mourinho was still questioning his performances, dropping him to the bench for a game against Everton. "The thinking is because I am not happy with Mkhi's performance in the last match," Mourinho said in April.

Mkhitaryan was awarded the 2015-16 Bundesliga player of the season before joining United, having scored 23 goals in all competitions. Questions over Mourinho's decision-making on the quality of players have been raised in recent months after he sold Romelu Lukaku, Kevin De Bruyne and Filipe Luis while at Chelsea, all of which have had success since.

Mkhitaryan is likely to still have at least one more chance left at United as Mourinho will need him in the coming weeks. Wednesday's (22 November) 1-0 defeat to Basel was the first of 13 games in 40 days for United.

On Saturday, Mourinho's team hosts newly-promoted Brighton and Hove Albion at Old Trafford. The Portuguese coach's team sheet will given Mkhitaryan an indication of how many chances he will be given before the January transfer window opens at the beginning of the new year.

Henrikh Mkhitaryan
Jose Mourinho