Finally, some good news. After weeks (if not months) of speculation about his future, Roma announced earlier today that, not only will Henrikh Mkhitaryan remain with the club through the end of this extended season, but that the 31-year-old midfielder will stay with the club through the 2020-2021 season after a preliminary agreement was reached with Arsenal.
After battling through injuries earlier in the season, Mkhitaryan has emerged as one of Paulo Fonseca's most consistent threats, scoring six goals and providing four assists in 19 appearances between Serie A and the Europa League. More importantly, he's done so while playing four positions in attack, showing equal prowess for playing in the hole and on the left.
On his new arrangement, Mkhitaryan was understandably happy:
I’m very happy. Finally, we could reach an agreement to extend the loan, with a provisional agreement for next season too, so I’m very pleased. I’m happy to stay here because I still have things that I haven’t achieved yet that I want to achieve.
I’m looking forward to it, I’m looking forward to finishing this restart of the season on a high note and then to be focused on what’s next.
Mkhitaryan, who arrived from Arsenal last summer, has already set deep roots in the Eternal city following the birth of his son earlier this year. On the goals for the rest of the season, Mkhitaryan spoke about his desire to earn as many starts as possible:
Clearly I want to start lots of games - but of course I will be ready, whatever the coach decides.
I think we’re a very competitive team because we have more than 25 players, so in a few positions we have not two but three players - which is hard but it’s good too, because we’re always keeping our teammates focused and not letting them relax.
It’s one thing, one goal we are fighting for – which is we want Roma to be a top club with wins and trophies. And even if it’s difficult; if one game I have to play and then the other game someone else plays, at the end of the day we’re fighting for one thing, and that’s Roma.
So we have to push each other, we have to support each other and work to move forward.
Speaking on the deal, club CEO Guido Fienga was quick to praise Mkhitaryan for the manner in which he embodies the club's ambitions:
We are happy that Henrikh has decided to stay with us, and help us continue to grow,” said Guido Fienga, the club’s CEO.
The club’s targets have not changed and we always want to have players at our club, like Micki, who show their desire, professionalism and determination, who represent our club and our fans in the right way.
I hope Micki stays at Roma for a long time – and I want to congratulate him on the birth of his son here, too
Given his commitment to the club and city, not to mention his versatility and sheer talent, this is obviously tremendous news. Keeping Mkhitaryan around for another season should enable a smooth transition to Fonseca Football 2.0 next season.
Great work from the club to get this deal hammered out (and to keep it under wraps), now let's hope they hit us with a one-two and announce a similar deal for Chris Smalling soon.