According to German tabloid Bild (via L'Equipe), Chelsea are set to make a €60 million bid for Borussia Dortmund attacking midfielder Henrikh Mkhitaryan. The Armenian national team captain led the Bundesliga in assists with 15, while also scoring 11 times for his club in the league. He added anther 12 goals in Europe and the German Cup for his most productive season at BVB yet since his arrival three years ago for a club record fee of €27.5 million.
Mkhitaryan's contract with Dortmund ends next season, and a report from his native country's news agency Armenpress claims that he won't be signing a new contract with the club. Arsenal are chief among those believed to be interested in bidding for the 27-year-old's services, with the Gunners having already entered negotiations with the player's agent.
With BVB the darlings of neutrals and hipsters for a few seasons now, Mkhitaryan is a fairly well known and highly desired quantity. He's also played against Chelsea a couple times, back in 2012-13 Champions League group stages, when both he and Willian were still at Shakhtar Donetsk.
His versatility enables him to play on either the flanks or from the centre from midfield to attack. This season he played mostly on the right flank of Dortmund's 4-3-3 and 4-2-3-1 formations under manager Thomas Tuchel, deployed either as a winger or as a attacking midfielder for his team.
Mkhitaryan uses his dribbling skills to free himself from his markers, carrying the ball forward while always looking to make a pass to teammates in better areas. But he's also not afraid to take a shot -- in the Bundesliga, Mkhitaryan averaged 2.6 shots per 90 minutes of play with half of those coming from outside the box.
His speed is good enough to keep up with the likes of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, one of the fastest players in football, though Mkhitaryan is not as reliant on pace as his bags-of-goals teammate. As expected of a player who commands such transfer fees, Mkhitaryan also has a great first-touch, and rarely loses the ball on his own accord.
There are issues in Mkhitaryan's game though. His aggressive passing style leads to a relatively low passing completion rate (second worst among BVB regulars after P-EA), succeeding in only 75.7% of his 42.9 attempts per 90 minutes from long and short range (in comparison, Chelsea's Willian had a 82.4% passing rate success in the Premier League while attempting roughly the same number of passes per 90 minutes at 42.9).
Mkhitaryan also very much likes to drift inside eve if playing in wide positions. With most of our attacking midfielders exhibiting such tendencies, things could get very congested for Chelsea. And while the Mkhitaryan does have a high number of attempted tackles, thanks in part to BVB's pressing system, he isn't exactly the most imposing player in physical terms, which can always be a source for concern against the stereotypical Premier League defences.
Despite these issues and the outsized transfer fee for a player with just one-year left on his contract, Mkhitaryan would be a nice acquisition for Chelsea, especially if one of our current attacking midfielders were to leave. Otherwise, this money would be best put to use on a new midfielder or centre back instead.