United Signs Designated Player to Push New Contract Talks Forward

(AP) — After winning back-to-back English titles, the Queens Park Rangers are without a point in the Premier League this season. In a lavish ceremony to welcome the 2019-20 season, owner Tony Fernandes brought…

United Signs Designated Player to Push New Contract Talks Forward

(AP) — After winning back-to-back English titles, the Queens Park Rangers are without a point in the Premier League this season. In a lavish ceremony to welcome the 2019-20 season, owner Tony Fernandes brought back 90,000 fans to the Etihad Stadium to watch his team in preseason training.

“It was big on the sense of occasion,” Fernando Hierro, a former United defender, said of the four-hour public event that cost the fans 25 pounds ($33) each to attend. “It was a good way to bring the fans together.”

When Henrikh Mkhitaryan signs a new contract in the next few days, he will ensure that he’s still wearing the blue and white stripes of Manchester United.

The Armenian has scored two goals and provided three assists in the Premier League this season, proving he can thrive in the more advanced positions that he is playing. But there will be some United fans who are less than impressed with Mkhitaryan’s new contract, which is reportedly worth 100,000 pounds ($130,000) a week. It’s the price of a luxury 4X4 at one end of the scale and only a couple of hundred pounds more than the wages of some academy players, let alone the established, experienced ones.

Mkhitaryan wants to stay at United and stay past the end of his contract, which is expected to be around 2020. Yet in the Dutchman’s case, the 30-year-old Mkhitaryan has been a peripheral figure at Old Trafford since he arrived from Borussia Dortmund for a fee in the region of 30 million pounds ($39 million) in 2016. He started only nine Premier League games last season.

He came off the bench as Jose Mourinho brought United back into the title race, but left out of the squad completely after Mourinho was fired in May. Mourinho said he would need to prove his class to stay in the Premier League. That proved difficult and Mkhitaryan joined Arsenal at the start of the season — as part of a 33-player signing — and is one of three players to have left United this year.

Mkhitaryan scored in the Europa League final in May and has now added to that tally — this time at the start of the campaign — after netting a header against Leicester. He was in the Russia squad that played at the World Cup in Russia.

“He is super interesting, super nice guy. Every time I saw him was a positive,” Feyenoord midfielder Vadis Odjidja-Ofoe said at a pre-season friendly. “I enjoyed playing with him because he helped me a lot.”

Mkhitaryan’s old No.10 shirt was handed to Juan Mata. A lot has been written about the failure of Martial to get regular game time and his eye-catching performances for Manchester United — and Manchester City — in recent seasons.

And while Henrikh Mkhitaryan is ranked among the top 10 scorers in European football, his shooting statistics with United are not looking the greatest.

A superb volley from out wide against Leicester was the only goal of the match. Compare that with the last three seasons when he managed 29, 36 and 21.

So is Mkhitaryan really that good?

Twitter: @mattthomasuk

Thomas at: www.Twitter.com/MattThomasuk

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