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Henrikh Mkhitaryan ran out of chances under Jose Mourinho at Man United

With the Alexis Sanchez and Henrikh Mkhitaryan swap confirmed, Craig Burley and Alexis Nunes break down the deal from both sides.

Jose Mourinho was so keen to bring Henrikh Mkhitaryan to Manchester United that he announced the signing before the club were ready.

"It is official?" he asked United's press officer during a news conference in early July 2016. After being told it was not, he replied: "It will be soon."

But it was only a few months later that the first doubts began to creep in. By the time United lined up for their final preseason friendly against Everton at the end of the summer, Mkhitaryan was not in the team.

In Mourinho's first competitive game in charge -- the Community Shield against Leicester at Wembley -- the Armenian midfielder played for a solitary minute.

It was not what the new United manager had in mind.

The idea in his first transfer window was to bring in four players who could improve the team right away. Mourinho said as much in the press release sent out to announce to Mkhitaryan's arrival from Borussia Dortmund.

"I believe he will make an impact on the team very quickly as his style of play is suited to the Premier League," he said.

But it did not work out like that.

Mkhitaryan was only able to start one of United's first 19 games of the season. It was against Manchester City at Old Trafford and he lasted just 45 minutes.

"It's been difficult for him to adapt to the intensity and competitiveness of the Premier League," Mourinho said in November 2016. "It's completely different for him. But he's a player who we know has a lot of talent."

After being named man of the match in a 4-0 win over Feyenoord in the Europa League -- only his second start in four months -- Mourinho was still asking for more.

"He needs now to replicate this kind of performance in the Premier League," he said. "The Europa League is different, he needs one more step and it gives him the right to believe he can play in the next match and play with more physicality, more aggression."

Those two words, "physicality" and "aggression", were not chosen by accident. They are words that are associated with a Mourinho player, but not necessarily Mkhitaryan.

Henrikh Mkhitaryan's Manchester United career lasted just 18 months before being moved on to Arsenal.

Sources have told ESPN FC that it was no surprise to Mourinho and his coaching staff that Mkhitaryan was more successful in the Europa League last season than he was in the Premier League.

With more space and more time on the ball, he thrived. Of his 11 goals in all competitions, six were in Europe. Most were important. He scored away from home against Zorya Luhansk, Saint-Etienne, Rostov, Anderlecht and in the Europa League final against Ajax.

In his statement on Mkhitaryan's exit for Arsenal this week, Mourinho said "he would never forget the contribution to our Europa League victory". It was telling that was as far as the praise went.

Mkhitaryan was never able to convince Mourinho he was suited to English football.

In 18 months at Old Trafford, he started 26 Premier League games but only completed 90 minutes four times. In eight starts against the top six, he played a full game just once. On five occasions he was withdrawn on or before the 65-minute mark. It suggests Mourinho never had a great deal of trust in his charge.

In the end, Mkhitaryan ran out of chances.

Mourinho said Mkhitaryan had "worked really hard physically and tactically" to get back into his plans last season. But after spending the summer tour of the United States building a team around the 29-year-old as the No. 10 behind new signing Romelu Lukaku, Mourinho's patience eventually wore thin.

Mkhitaryan lasted just 62 minutes in a 1-0 defeat to Chelsea in November and for the next two games was left in the stands.

"I wasn't happy with his last performances," Mourinho explained. "I'm not speaking about one or two, I'm speaking about three, four or five.

"He started the season very well and after that, step by step, he was disappearing. His performance levels in terms of goalscoring and assists, high pressing, recovering the ball high up the pitch, bringing the team with him as a No. 10, were decreasing.

"That was enough, because the others worked to have a chance."

And that was that.

Mkhitaryan started just two more games against Southampton and Derby -- failing to make it past 65 minutes in both games -- before he signed for Arsenal in a swap with Alexis Sanchez.

Sources have told ESPN FC that Arsenal's interest in Mkhitaryan came as no surprise to many of the coaches at Carrington who felt he is better suited to Arsene Wenger's style and requirements than those of Mourinho. In return, Mourinho has got Sanchez, and the aggression and physicality he was looking for.

Rob is ESPN FC's Manchester United correspondent. Follow him on Twitter @RobDawsonESPN.

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