Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Is Henrikh Mkhitaryan Worth £20 million?

I see a lot of old photos of Henrikh Mkhitaryan signing Liverpool jerseys doing the rounds on social media, and I wonder if he really is worth the £20 million or so (multiple figures have been quoted by multiple sources, so I'm not sure which is the exact figure) Liverpool are supposed to be shelling out to acquire his services.

Somehow, I am not convinced that he worth that much of money, especially on the back of only one excellent season. If we go back and look at his performances over the last three seasons, it becomes quite clear that so far, he is just a one season wonder.

Much has been talked about how he can fit into this Liverpool side and add depth to the squad thanks to the multiple roles that he can perform (check out this article), but I am not so sure whether he is the right person for the role, especially at the quoted price point.

Let's have a look at his record over the past three seasons.

2012-13 season

2011-12 season

2010-11 season

The 2012-13 season has clearly been the most prolific for him, and the numbers speak for themselves. However, if we look at the numbers in a bit more detail, it shows the lack of performance at the biggest stage he has been playing in. In three seasons of Champions League football, he has scored just twice in 21 appearances with no assists. In fact his two goals came at home against Nordsj√¶lland, the weakest team in the group. He failed to hit the mark or even provide an assist against the bigger teams.

In fact, the number of assists over the last season is quite less compared to the number of goals he has scored, 56 goals as compared to 32 assists. The lower number of assists is a cause for concern, especially for a player who is going to be brought in to fill a creative role in the side. His passing statistics are also not good enough. In this season's Champions League, he attempted 311 passes but completed only 193 of them, a very poor accuracy of 62%, especially considering that it is worse that each and every member of the current Liverpool squad, barring Brad Jones.

However, Mkhitaryan did  manage 88 % passing success away at Chelsea and 77 % in the home tie. How good it will be when he is put under pressure in the Premier League is doubtful, and a lot of work needs to be done on this front.

Critical goals scored
Even the the goals he scores are more of adding gloss to the scoreline and less of the critical goals that will win you matches. Of the 56 goals that he has scored, only 16 have been critical ones, goals that have leveled the score or helped Shakhtar take the lead. Big wins are good morale boosters, but the narrow hard-fought ones are the ones that actually make the difference at the end of the season.

That being said, if the deal goes through, Liverpool will be getting an attacking talent with no shortage of technical ability. Mkhitaryan's finishing is razor sharp and his work rate is such that he will drag defenders all over the field when making his trademark runs into the box which were frequently rewarded and often went untracked, something that really stands out from his prolific campaign last season.

But is he worth the £20 million fee being quoted? What do you think? Please give your thoughts below in the comments section.