Jurgen Klopp took some time out of his pre-match press meet to heap praise on Henrikh Mkhitaryan, and admitted the Armenian is a rare, world-class player, ahead of this weekend’s Premier League mega clash between Liverpool and Manchester United at Old Trafford.
Klopp managed Mkhitaryan while he was at Borussia Dortmund, when the Armenia international served a key role to help the German’s squad reach the DFB-Pokal final in 2013/14 as well as finish runner-up to the mighty Bayern Munich side that year. It was Klopp who was responsible for bringing him to the Bundesliga club as their £23.4m club-record signing.
Klopp will now have to face Mkhitaryan for the first time since the 27-year-old joined Manchester United in the summer. After struggling to adjust to the life of Premier League, Mkhitaryan has become one of their key weapons since Jose Mourinho reintroduced him into the United squad.
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The current Liverpool manager’s relationship with the Armenian remains a positive one, even if they find themselves on the opposite sides of a fierce rivalry which reignites this weekend when Klopp’s boys make the short trip to Manchester, and Liverpool boss was keen to hail Mkhitaryan’s talents that always set him out from the rest.
“He combines technical ability and tempo. It is rare,” Klopp said of Mkhitaryan. “He is a good finisher with a great attitude. He is a world-class player.”
Mkhitaryan will also get his first taste of the age-old United-Liverpool rivalry, having missed the first encounter earlier this term that ended up in a 0-0 draw. Klopp doesn’t expect the same to happen this time around, though, and thinks he doesn’t have to dig up the past to motivate his team as they are already fully aware.