“He needs to play” – Jose Mourinho’s Henrikh Mkhitrayan snub branded unbelievable by Owen Hargreaves

“He needs to play” – Jose Mourinho’s Henrikh Mkhitrayan snub branded unbelievable by Owen Hargreaves

EXCLUSIVE

Former Manchester United midfielder Owen Hargreaves says he “can’t believe” that playmaker Henrikh Mkhitaryan does not feature in Jose Mourinho’s immediate plans.

Mkhitaryan’s future is already in doubt just months after his £26m move from Borussia Dortmund, with the Armenian left out of the squad for United’s last two matches despite being fit and available for selection.

The 27-year-old is said to be confused by his lack of playing time having started only one match so far this season, against Manchester City in September when he was substituted by Mourinho at half-time.

“He needs to play, I can’t believe that he’s not getting a look-in. He would be a banker in my starting XI,” BT Sport pundit Hargreaves told Squawka.

“He had a slow start at Dortmund too and he was the players’ player of the year last season. He got 23 goals and 32 assists, which is staggering numbers.

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“This wasn’t in a terrible league against pub teams and I can’t think of anybody who could put up those numbers besides Messi and Ronaldo. He’s a top player and we haven’t seen it yet at United.

“The thing is, he’s such a wonderful player but I think he’s also quite a sensitive guy. It would have been perfect if he started off flying with goals and assists, but the slow start has probably hit his confidence.”

United sit seventh in the Premier League table after nine matches and Mourinho’s decisions are coming under extra scrutiny after the humbling 4-0 defeat on his return to former club Chelsea on Sunday.

Hargreaves, who won the Premier League and Champions League with United under Sir Alex Ferguson in 2008, believes the 20-time English champions have a squad capable of challenging for the title.

But the former England midfielder says Mourinho must find a way to fit all of the club’s attacking talents, including Mkhitaryan, into his first-choice starting line-up.

BT Sport's Owen Hargreaves speaks at halftime during Manchester United's victory over FC Midtjylland at Old Trafford.

BT Sport’s Owen Hargreaves speaks at halftime during Manchester United’s victory over FC Midtjylland at Old Trafford.

Hargreaves added: “For me, you have to play the players that can help you win the league. There is a way to get Mkhitaryan, [Paul] Pogba, [Zlatan] Ibrahimovic, [Anthony] Martial and [Marcus] Rashford in the same team and United could be frightening if these guys all clicked.

“Ultimately, Mourinho has to find a way to get them in the team because if they are playing, United could win the Premier League.

“United are seventh in the league and at some point they have to start winning games. He set his stall out himself by saying that United need to challenge to win the league.

“Mourinho is the best in the game at tactically setting up to defend but it’s not enough. He needs to trust the top players he has and find a way to get the likes of Mkhitaryan and Shaw in his team, to get the best out of Pogba and Ibrahimovic.

“Manchester United’s best XI should be good enough to go toe-to-toe with anybody.”

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