Mourinho is right to let Mkhitaryan leave but there is still hope for Shaw
Their days at Old Trafford are apparently numbered.
If the latest reports are to be believed, Jose Mourinho will look to shed what he sees as some deadweight from the Manchester United first-team in January.
The two players being mentioned are Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Luke Shaw. Both players have had their issues with Mourinho in the past and, if we're being honest, it's not entirely surprising to hear that their futures at Old Trafford are uncertain considering their minimal contributions in recent weeks.
After a productive start to the season, Mkhitaryan's form has dipped drastically. Following the injury to Paul Pogba, Mourinho looked to the Armenian playmaker to provide much of United's creativity in the final third. However, his performances resembled those when he first moved to England from Borussia Dortmund, and he has barely featured since the defeat to Chelsea at the start of November.
While teething problems in Premier League football were to be expected, his sub-standard performances this season have been startling – and Mourinho has acted accordingly, leaving him out of seven of his last eight matchday squads.
The Portuguese coach on Friday admitted that he would not stand in the way of Mkhitaryan leaving if a sufficient offer landed in United's inbox. With Dortmund reportedly interested in re-signing the midfielder, you can see where this is going.
"If a player is not happy and brings with the request a number we consider good for us, I would never say no.
"That is my approach as a manager. Every player has a price."
This week, the BBC reported that there has been a 'breakdown in trust' between Mourinho and Mkhitaryan. Well, that's not exactly a surprise, is it? It's understandable that Mourinho has lost trust in a player whose performances in the last two months have been well below the required standard.
Similarly, you can feel empathy for Mkhitaryan, who must feel as though he is fighting a losing battle against a manager who clearly has strong reservation about what he brings to the side.
All in all, though, if United are presented with an offer for their dispirited playmaker, they should take it. While Mourinho may get lambasted for his harsh treatment of Mkhitaryan, there is no point in having a player at the club he doesn't rate. As Mourinho himself mentioned on Friday, it happened with Memphis Depay and Bastian Schweinsteiger.
They were both unhappy at United and United were unhappy with them, particularly Depay, who had arrived from PSV Eindhoven to much fanfare only to leave club's supporters bewildered by a string of ineffective displays on the wing.
However, while it makes sense to part ways with Mkhitaryan, Luke Shaw is a different story. After a long, torturous journey back into Mourinho's good books, there has been evidence recently that his United career is not dead yet. The 22-year-old impressed in his first start of the season, against CSKA Moscow, earlier this month, before following it up with a solid performance against Bournemouth, his first taste of league action in eight months.
United are not well endowed with options at left-back. Ashley Young has impressed there, but Daley Blind and Matteo Darmian haven't done enough to stake their claim in that position. You get the sense, though, that there is hope for Shaw, a player who was rightly being hyped as one of English football's great prospects while he was at Southampton.
While Mourinho would expect Mkhitaryan, at 28, to be producing the best football of his career, Shaw has the time to learn and cement his place as United's long-term left-back. What's certain is that Mourinho may make some major decisions regarding his squad come January, but they may not be the most popular decisions.
Never forget that Mkhitaryan was compared to KdB, Özil & Coutinho because he got two assists against Swansea
— Patrick Timmons (@PatrickTimmons1) December 16, 2017
If Mkhitaryan leaves, fair enough. We've had far worse flops in recent times. Without him we wouldn't have won Europa last season. So I thank him for that, the scorpion kick and wish him well, if he leaves. #MUFC
— Aidan Stephenson (@MelvinS7ven) December 16, 2017
Luke Shaw has been superb tonight. A joy to watch when fit and firing. Fantastic going down the left and makes up for Manchester United’s lack of wingers. Top performance.
— Liam Canning (@LiamPaulCanning) December 13, 2017
Mourinho: "I'm not saying he is first or second choice, Luke Shaw is an option. People forget his history, a hard history with an incredible injury and more surgery last season. I liked the standing ovation he got, it only helps the player." #MUFC
— Devils Latest (@Devils_Latest) December 13, 2017
Mourinho and Luke Shaw after Shaw was substituted https://t.co/HuHDGz6o0t
— Man Utd Channel (@ManUtdChannel) December 13, 2017