A move to Arsenal may be best thing to happen to Mkhitaryan
Gunners can rise with Mkhitaryan, Aubameyang
If Jose Mourinho had a voodoo doll, it might look a lot like Henrikh Mkhitaryan.
The Armenian was offloaded to Arsenal because he's everything an archetypal Mourinho player isn't.
He's seen as a drifter, an indulged footballer with his thumb in the air. He waits for others to do the work for him.
He's light on industry and even lighter on a set of scales. In this regard, he's both the definitive Mourinho anti-footballer and the definitive Arsene Wenger footballer.
Presumably, the United boss doesn't see a loss, but Wenger almost certainly sees a gain. And therein lies the exasperating Mkhitaryan conundrum.
The midfielder means different things to different people. Handle him with care and the dynamo from Borussia Dortmund may spark once more at the Emirates.
Pair him with his old Bundesliga buddy Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and keep Mesut Oezil at the club and Wenger might yet save his Arsenal legacy.
That might be a fanciful bridge too far, but few dispute Mkhitaryan's pedigree or his startling loss of form at Manchester United.
He was usually ineffective because he was used ineffectively. At United, Mkhitaryan joined that ever-growing list of starry names who stagnated under Mourinho.
The Portuguese pragmatist has little patience for mercurial wide men or indulged puppeteers trying to pull strings through the middle - the roles that Mkhitaryan typically favoured at Dortmund.
But Wenger adores a fragile artist. He nurtures them and continues to pick them long after their form has dipped.
Mkhitaryan can be sure of the right kind of love at Arsenal, but the right kind of formation, approach and line-up will make or break the 29-year-old's career.
Under the irrepressible Juergen Klopp, Mkhitaryan saw the ball quickly and regularly at Dortmund.
He was always involved, chalking up the kind of goal and assist tallies typically associated with computer games.
But, contrary to Mourinho's belief, he got stuck in too. The lost soul at United did his fair share of leg work at Dortmund.
According to the Guardian, Mkhitaryan regained possession through tackles and interceptions 2.7 times per game, 3.2 times per game and 3.2 times per game over his three Bundesliga seasons, solid figures for a floating No. 10.
But his stats probably said more about his respective managers than any perceived lack of effort on his part.
Klopp's pressing game kept Mkhitaryan busy, with or without the ball. Mourinho's tepid, cautious game often left him isolated, usually in a wide position that he never favoured.
Wenger's Gunners are not renowned for the kind of gut-busting counter-surges typically associated with Klopp's teams either, but he's far more accommodating when it comes to brittle mavericks.
Theo Walcott, Alex Iwobi, Mohamed Elneny and Jack Wilshere all benefited from Wenger's habit of persisting with wayward midfielders delivering the kind of indifferent performances seen at United with Mkhitaryan.
How Mkhitaryan is deployed will be the most pressing issue. He thrives through the middle, a role he was rarely given at United.
Arsenal's 4-1 win over Crystal Palace was achieved with a 4-3-3, which had Elneny in a defensive holding role, rather than a roving No. 10, which doesn't help Mkhitaryan.
Moreover, the Gunners already have a flaky creator who likes cutting inside to control proceedings from the edge of the box.
But Oezil could be off at the end of the season, which is a rather defeatist attitude, when there's the appetising prospect of playing Mkhitaryan and Oezil together in a creative tandem.
Two Bundesliga old boys could even be joined by a third.
If the reports are accurate, Arsenal intend to offload Olivier Giroud to Borussia Dortmund and throw in some cash to get Aubameyang in return.
Aubameyang and Mkhitaryan played together at Dortmund, a nifty little-and-large attacking combo that served the Germans well.
Aubameyang, Mkhitaryan and Oezil suddenly offer an enticing proposition, one that could conceivably convince others to join Arsenal (perhaps even a centre back, a position with real problems for Wenger).
More than that, a dynamic trio and a supportive manager might offer Mkhitaryan a chance to salvage his reputation in England.
His fine flourishes at United, particularly in the Europa League where he enjoyed greater freedom, frustrated as much as they entertained.
They were occasional daubs on a canvas, the odd hint of his underlying pedigree, but not much more than that.
Other playmakers have left Mourinho and flourished at rival clubs - and in spectacular fashion in a couple of cases - and the affable Armenian deserves his opportunity to join such distinguished company.
He's been given a chance to reignite his career.
Now he just needs to rekindle his relationship with Aubameyang.