Monday 23 July 2018

Mkhitaryan: I have always dreamed of playing for Arsenal

Henrikh Mkhitaryan
Henrikh Mkhitaryan

Jeremy Wilson

Henrikh Mkhitaryan claimed that he had fulfilled a lifelong "dream" to join Arsenal yesterday, even after arriving at the Emirates as a direct consequence of Alexis Sanchez's move to Manchester United.

With Sanchez out of contract in the summer, Arsenal eventually agreed his departure as part of a swap deal for Mkhitaryan, who was allowed to leave United after less than two seasons at the club.

"I've always dreamed of playing for Arsenal," said Mkhitaryan.

"I always loved the way that Arsenal played and the way that Arsene Wenger has managed the team."

Former Borussia Dortmund playmaker Mkhitaryan has signed until 2021 and Arsenal are also now close to agreement with Jack Wilshere to extend his deal which expires in June.

Wilshere has been offered a reduced basic salary but a more performance-structured deal that could potentially be worth more than his current £120,000-a-week (€137,000) wage.

Negotiations are also ongoing with Mesut Ozil but the expectation is he will wait until his contract expires this summer before assessing his options.

Complete

Wenger claimed he had signed "a complete player" in Mkhitaryan. The Armenian scored last season for United in the final of the Europa League and, at 29, is the same age as Sanchez.

He is not eligible for tomorrow's League Cup semi-final against Chelsea and, with Arsenal out of the FA Cup, will have to wait until the Premier League match against Swansea City next Tuesday for a possible debut.

Arsenal hope by then to have also signed striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang from Borussia Dortmund, with chief executive Ivan Gazidis and new recruitment chief Sven Mislintat in Germany for negotiations.

An initial £44m (€50m) offer has been rejected and while Dortmund want a replacement and would prefer to wait until the summer, Wenger is hoping that a potential club-record deal can be completed in the coming days.

Aubameyang also turns 30 next year and Wenger's desire to pay so much for a player with little sell-on potential points to the urgency with which he views the final months of the season.

The manager is certain that Mkhitaryan can make a big impact at the club.

"He's a player who has all the attributes. We're replacing a very good player with a very good player, a world-class player with a world-class player. I'm very excited to get a player in who will be committed and focused."

© The Daily Telegraph, London

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