Roma’s Henrikh Mkhitaryan insists he has buried the hatchet with Jose Mourinho after friction between the pair when at Manchester United.
The Armenian attacking midfielder has spoken of ‘differences and conflicts’ between himself and the Portuguese manager when at Old Trafford.
But as Roma prepare for a tilt at the Serie A title in the season ahead, Mkhitaryan, who has decided to stay at the club despite several offers, insists all that is now in the past.
He told Corriere dello Sport: ‘What happened in Manchester stays there. We spoke as mature people, we both want to go down the same path, we both want to win something with Roma and that is the only thing that matters this year.’
Roma finished seventh in the Serie A table last season, good enough only to qualify for the new UEFA Europa Conference League, and coach Paulo Fonseca left and was replaced by Mourinho.
Mkhitaryan, 32, agreed a one-year contract extension at the beginning of this month after his chat with Mourinho. He enjoyed a successful 2020-21 campaign, scoring 15 goals and adding 13 assists.
‘I had no doubts. But I wanted to have a fresh head to make the best decision. I had other offers, in Italy and abroad, but the right decision was to stay,’ he added.
Mkhitaryan, who played under Mourinho at Old Trafford for a season-and-a-half before going to Arsenal as part of the swap deal for Alexis Sanchez, has made no secret of previous problems with Mourinho.
‘[My relationship] with Mourinho was the most complicated in my career; he is a winner by nature,’ he told Yevgeny Savin in March 2020.
‘He wants you to win and you do what he asks you, it is difficult for anyone.
‘There were differences and conflicts, but they did not have a big impact on the hard work we did and the three trophies we won.’
The Armenia international also revealed the brutal side of Mourinho, insisting his perceived poor form was to blame for the pressure being cranked up on the Portuguese in the media.
‘Once Mourinho saw me at breakfast and said to me: ‘Because of you, the press criticises me,’ he added. ‘I replied: ”Really, mister? I’m not doing it on purpose.”’
The animosity between the pair first began in November 2017, when Mourinho benched Mkhitaryan and said: ‘I was not happy with his last performances.
‘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, pressing, recovering the ball high up the pitch, bringing the team with him as a No.10, were decreasing.
‘That was enough [to drop him] because the others worked to have a chance. Everybody works to have a chance. It’s as simple as that.’