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Henrikh Mkhitaryan’s move to Arsenal a dream come true

Wednesday 24th January 2018

The Alexis Sanchez transfer saga has finally been brought to a conclusion. The Chilean was unveiled by Manchester United on Monday. The move would have been more appropriately concluded on 15 January, Martin Luther King Jr's birthday. Then both the player and fans tired of the long, drawn out mess, could have said, "Free at last, free at last, thank God Almighty, we're free at last." 

With the announcement finally made and the player officially departed, Arsene Wenger can, between questions about Pierre-Emerick Aubamenyang, focus on matters on the pitch. 

Never mind how Sanchez will get on at Old Trafford. He will. How Arsenal will cope without him? How will Wenger utilise the player who came the other way? Will the real Henrikh Mkhitaryan reemerge or was the genuine article on display in Jose Mourinho's doghouse? 

Those who think Arsenal may have gotten the short end of the stick may have to think again. Life without the Chilean started on a bright note for the Gunners. A 4:1 victory over Crystal Palace at the Emirates seems the perfect message to concerned fans. The team has moved on. The talisman is dead. Long live the talisman. 

The question is whether the Armenian will be that talisman. or is Auba's arrival required?

Mkhi may have struggled in his final few months in Manchester, no thanks to his manager’s very public doubts. Judging by his best performances for United, and his times with Shakhtar Donetsk and Borussia Dortmund, he may just be the perfect signing for Arsenal. 

The Armenian fits the Gunners in many ways. Arsene Wenger has long been an admirer.

The thinking behind the deal is that we have a player who has four months contract basically and we move (him) out for free and in exchange, we have a player in Mkhitaryan who has a three-and-a-half-year contract.

So first it makes sense from a negotiations point of view and secondly we are replacing a very good player with a very good player, a world-class payer with a world-class player. That’s what it’s about, to keep our strength in the team.

I’m very excited to get a player in who will be committed and focused. That is of course as well very important, as we go into a very important period in the season where every game is basically a very important game so it’s important to have players who are focused.

Arsene Wenger apparently thinks Mkhitaryan's arrival is important.The player himself has long dreamed of playing for the Gunners, as revealed in comments he made over a decade ago while still playing for his hometown club:

My favorite team is Arsenal. I like their attacking play and fast style. Moreover, Arsene Wenger puts faith in young players while demanding results at the same time. I like that and want to play there one day.

Dreams do come true. Mkhitaryan is an Arsenal player for the next three-and-a-half years. If nothing else, fans should appreciate him realising a childhood dream. We all had them.

If the deal for Aubameyang also materialise it could be an even better situation for Mkhitaryan. In that memorable season in which he had 23 goals and 32 assists for Dortmund, Auba was on the end of many of the latter. Beyond their chemistry, a deal for the Gabonese striker makes a lot of sense. Summer signing Alexandre Lacazette is yet to deliver the goals If Aubameyang reunites with Mkhitaryan at the Emirates, the duo will certainly be an upgrade on Alexis Sanchez.

The Chilean soldiered on but unquestionably had become a burden on and off the pitch as his contract issues lingered. He and the team have finally been liberated. Arsenal’s free-flowing football against Crystal Palace may well be the beginning of better days to come. Henrikh Mkhitaryan has a golden opportunity to ensure that is the case, and in the bargain, become a legend at the club where he always wished to be.

Emmanuel Odey

Emmanuel is a freelance football journalist who lives and breathes the round leather game. He is a contributor on several platforms. You can follow him on Twitter for more.

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