Henrikh Mkhitaryan has insisted that he will fight for his Manchester United place, despite critical comments from boss Jose Mourinho.
So much was expected of the 27-year-old after United forked out £26.3million to sign the outstanding Borussia Dortmund attacking midfielder.
However, Mkhitaryan has found playing time restricted since his big-money move, making his first appearance in 54 days as United fell to a 2-1 Europa League defeat at Fenerbahce last week.
Jose Mourinho fumed at his players after the loss in Turkey and the Armenian substitute did not avoid his wrath, with the United boss saying he “needs to do more” – just days after backing the midfielder to eventually flourish in the north west.
Mkhitaryan’s frustration at the lack of game-time is clear, as is his determination to prove his worth at Old Trafford.
“It is true that I get little time on the field, but I am not going to give in,” he told reporters after being appointed as Goodwill Ambassador for UNICEF in Armenia.
“I went a long way to play in Manchester United, so nothing will prevent me from achieving my dream.
“I will not retreat, I will find the strength to reach my goal.”
Mkhitaryan is one of several players under the spotlight, with Mourinho focusing his ire on attitudes within the United dressing room.
Chris Smalling and Luke Shaw appear to be the latest in the firing line, with the Portuguese boss seemingly questioned the validity of the defenders’ absence from Sunday’s 3-1 win at Swansea.
“We have players with problems, players on the pitch with problems,” Mourinho said.
“Every sport – and I know that because I have friends from other sports who play at the highest level – you play when you are not 100 per cent.
“I have a friend who is a big tennis player and he remembers more the times he plays in pain than without any pain.
“That’s what I mean, to compete you have to go to the limit. It is a cultural thing for some. But that’s not my culture. And more than me, Man United’s (culture).”
Before the match Mourinho explained Smalling and Shaw did not feel in a condition to play at the Liberty Stadium, making them the most likely targets of his post-match comments.
Smalling has been dealing with a foot complaint of late, while Shaw has been suffering with discomfort in the leg that was so horrifically fractured in two places in September 2015.
Such issues are understood to have flared up over the last week, causing the left-back a problem during Thursday’s 2-1 Europa League defeat at Fenerbahce.
Smalling and Shaw are absent from the England squad as a result of their issues.