A new era begins at Man United

Mkhitaryan is Mourinho's third signing, while club legend Giggs confirms he is leaving

LONDON • Manchester United are known for "playing attacking and exciting football" and as the English giants confirmed the departure of club legend Ryan Giggs after 29 years yesterday, they also welcomed a player whom they hope will fit in that mould.

Armenian midfielder Henrikh Mkhitaryan became Jose Mourinho's third signing of the close season, with the move disclosed by the player's German club Borussia Dortmund. However, it is believed the 27-year-old has still to agree personal terms and a medical check-up has yet to be arranged.

Mkhitaryan, who would join Ivory Coast defender Eric Bailly and veteran Swedish striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic as new faces at Old Trafford, was given a curt farewell by Dortmund after ending his three-year stay in a deal worth around €42 million (S$63 million).

Dortmund chairman HansJoachim Watzke said he and the club were put in an unenviable position as Mkhitaryan had just a year left on his contract.

"Manchester made us an enormous offer. If we had rejected it, the player could have left for free in 2017," said Watzke.

Mkhitaryan, who cost Dortmund €27.5 million when they signed him from Ukrainian outfit Shakhtar Donetsk in 2013, had a stellar season last term, scoring 23 goals and creating another 32 in all competitions, as Dortmund finished runners-up to Bayern Munich in Germany's top flight.

The expected move comes less than 24 hours after Ibrahimovic completed his free transfer to United from Paris Saint-Germain.

"It goes without saying that I cannot wait to work with Jose Mourinho once again," said the Swede, who played for the Portuguese at Inter Milan. "He is a fantastic manager and I am ready for this new and exciting challenge."

Also up for a new challenge is Giggs, whose departure was widely expected following the arrival of Mourinho as manager in May.

"After 29 seasons at Manchester United as a player and assistant manager, I know winning is in the DNA of this club - giving youth a chance, and playing attacking and exciting football," said Giggs.

"It's healthy to have high expectations. It's right to expect to win. Manchester United expect, deserve, nothing less.

"This is why it is a huge decision for me to step away from the club that has been my life since the age of 14. It has not been a decision that I have made lightly.

"I'll take away so many special memories as well as a lifetime of experiences that will, I hope, serve me well in the future.

"However, the time feels right and, although I have no immediate plans to step into management, it is where I want to be.

"I want to congratulate Jose on his appointment as manager of the world's biggest club. There are only a handful of proven winners at the very highest level and Jose is unquestionably one of them."

Ed Woodward, executive vice-chairman, paid a handsome tribute to United's faithful servant.

"Ryan's place in the history of Manchester United is assured," said Woodward. "He has been a constant presence at the club since 1987 and during his playing days, regularly delighted crowds; first with his dazzling wing play and later with his intelligence and ability to dictate a game.

"He has all the attributes to be a terrific manager in the future."

It is believed Mourinho had offered Giggs a role within the youth set-up but the 42-year-old has decided his future lies elsewhere, having not been considered as Louis van Gaal's successor.

The Dutchman was sacked earlier in May after two years as manager.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on July 03, 2016, with the headline 'A new era begins at Man United'. Print Edition | Subscribe