Following the 1-1 draw against Porto in Algarve, Henrikh Mkhitaryan spoke to Corriere dello Sport and shared his thoughts on the season ahead, team dynamics and his decision to extend his stay in the Italian capital for another year.
He first commented on the current preseason preparations.
“We’re working hard, trying to do everything that the manager asks of us. We’re working on a number of things we may not have worked on enough in the past.”
“I can’t reveal what that is. It’s a secret.”
On Mourinho’s arrival:
“Whenever we play a competition, no matter what it is, the objective is always to win it. Some of us may play to just play football, but I don’t. I play to win. I’ve never played football just to have fun. Without trophies you’ll find yourself at the end of your career with nothing left.”
“My teammates and I want to win something in order to enter the club’s history books.”
On his decision to stay in the capital for another year:
“I never had any doubts. But I wanted to have a clear head in order to make the best decision for myself. I received some offers, from Italy and abroad, but the right decision was to stay at Roma.”
On his relationship with Mourinho since the Manchester United days:
“What happened in Manchester stays in Manchester. We spoke to each other as grown ups, we both want to continue down the same path, we both want to win with this club. That’s all that matters this year.”
“To Mourinho the only thing that counts is winning. Last year there were games where we played extremely well, but we would end up losing them. Sometimes it’s better to play not as well but come away with three points. I like it that way.”
“Last year that happened. Something was missing and at the end of the day we paid the price for these missed details.”
On his career-best 20/21 season with 15 goals and 13 assists:
“I hope I can repeat myself. But what matters is that the team does well. If I can contribute by scoring goals or providing assists, then all the better.”
On his preferred position:
“I like to play anywhere on the field. Last year I even played as a striker in some games. I played behind the striker, up top and also in the midfield. With Mourinho at Manchester I even played as a left-back.”
On the difference between Mourinho from Manchester United and the current one:
“He’s the same person, but he’s even more determined to win. A manager like him never gives up, he wants to win always, no matter what. He was born with this attitude. You can’t buy it with time. He’s special because of this.”
On the fighting spirit shown against Porto following Pepe’s harsh foul on him.
“Just to be clear: as a footballer, it wasn’t a rough challenge by Pepe. It was a dirty challenge, he wanted to hurt me. That’s why I got mad. Even though it was a friendly, it was important for us and for them. I’m like that when I play. Always. I want to win in training sessions.”
“It wasn’t a nice scene, but it happened. I hope it doesn’t happen again.”
On who are the favorites for the scudetto:
“The league will be very competitive this year. A number of teams have what it takes to win. It will be hard for everyone. We have a good team, we know what we want to achieve. Without making any statements, I’m only thinking of the friendly against Sevilla. That’s all.”
“Who wants to win the scudetto will first have to get through Roma. We want to achieve concrete objectives. I don’t like to dream.”
On his special relationship with Edin Dzeko:
“I met Edin before coming to Roma. We were both playing for our respective national teams, we beat Bosnia 4-2. It’s a pleasure to play with him, I have a wonderful rapport with him and with others too. This team is like a family to me. We win or lose together. We’re all responsible for what happens.”
On Dzeko’s difficult last season when he was stripped of the captain’s armband:
“It wasn’t nice for all of us. Nobody wanted it to end that way. The good thing is that ever since then we’re all back on the same page, working to improve as a whole. We made a deal then, we would get through to the end of the season and Edin would help us, like he has always done.”
“Even without the armband, Edin is our captain. For his experience, his charisma, everybody knows how important he is. We all love him. The armband doesn’t matter. At 35 he’s our goal-scorer.”
On his relationship with agent Mino Raiola.
“He’s not only an agent, he’s a friend. I’ve known him since 2013, when I was at Shakhtar and wanted to leave. He helped me move to Borussia. He’s happy and so are his clients. If someone doesn’t get enough playing time he helps them find a solution. Sporting directors don’t like him because he’s a good negotiator, but he knows his trade.”