Brendan Rodgers has identified Shakhtar Donetsk playmaker Henrikh Mkhitaryan as his number one target. The Northen Irishman has scouted his target for months in a similar way he scouted Brazilian midfielder Phillipe Coutinho. He is willing to spend around £20 million to land his man.
But who is the Armenian international that could be gracing the grasses of Anfield soon?
NAME: Henrikh Mkhitaryan
CLUB: Shakhtar Donetsk
It is believed the Reds will move for the midfielder disregarding whether Luis Suarez departs the club or not. Also, they are not deterred by the £22 million price tag.
Mkhitaryan was courted by some of Europe’s top clubs such as Chelsea and Barcelona and the Anfield club have firmly registered their interest after the 24 year old netted 25 goals in the Ukrainian league despite playing as a midfielder.
Fenway Sports Group are also behind Rodgers in his pursuit of the Armenian as they look to bolster their attacking options for next season with Luis Suarez potentially exiting the club and with Daniel Sturridge likely to miss the opening of the season with a ligament injury.
With Steven Gerrard and Lucas Leiva behind him, Mkhitaryan will be given the freedom to excel in Liverpool’s midfield. Alongside Coutinho, he can provide the creative core for Liverpool’s attackers to perform. The Merseyside club are expected to complete the signing of Celta Vigo striker Iago Aspas in the coming days. Liverpool are confident that they can wrap up a deal despite not playing European football next campaign.
FIVE FACTS ABOUT HENRIKH MKHITARYAN
1) He was one of the highest scoring midfielders in Europe last season, bagging 25 goals and ten assists from all performances in the Ukrainian league.
2) Mkhitaryan has 36 caps for Armenia at international level with ten goals. He’s also represented his country at Under-17, Under-19 and Under-21 level.
3) He has won Armenia’s Player of the Year award back-to-back over 2011 and 2012. He also won the award in 2009.
4) His record of team honours is quite prolific for a player of such a young age. In total he’s won 14 trophies with senior clubs Pyunik Yerevan and Shakhtar Donetsk.
5) He is well connected in the world of professional football, as his mother works for the Armenian Football Federation and his sister works at UEFA
Liverpool’s owners are not afraid to spend big on top players, as long as they can maintain a sustainable business model for the future. Mkhitaryan could be the first big signing of a summer in which Liverpool must strengthen.