Liverpool must upgrade their attack in order to climb up the Premier League table. One player capable of helping the Reds move toward that goal is Henrikh Mkhitaryan, who the club should be pursuing aggressively in the coming weeks.
ESPN reports Liverpool have been favored to land the attacking midfielder's signature, but are now facing competition from Borussia Dortmund and Anzhi Makhachkala as he emerges as a coveted summer commodity.
The good news for manager Brendan Rodgers is in the same report Shakhtar Donetsk chief executive Sergei Palkin admits the club is willing to listen to offers for Mkhitaryan. He told Russian newspaper Izvestia (h/t ESPN):
Henrikh is an important player in our team. Shakhtar wants to keep him, but we are willing to listen and consider all suggestions for a transfer.
We have already parted with Willian (to Anzhi) and Fernandinho (to Manchester City), but the club will not just sell players. In the near future we will also gain quality, designed to replace the leading players, possibly including Henrikh.
Mkhitaryan isn't a household name, at least not yet, but he's been making serious progress in recent seasons. It was on full display throughout the most recent campaign, which saw him net 25 goals to lead the Ukrainian Premier League by a wide margin.
While the goal total is impressive, he's a lot more than a player with a good finishing touch. He possesses a terrific combination of vision and creativity, playmaking traits that will come in handy should he move to a bigger club.
The Armenian international is at his best when working in a central role, whether it be playing right behind the striker or a little deeper in a more basic formation. It gives him more space to operate, and that's when he's at his most dangerous.
That said, he's also capable of playing on the outside if necessary. His playmaking skills would come more into play under that scenario. It gives Rodgers options should he complete a deal.
Ultimately, Mkhitaryan has flashed enough talent to believe he could make an immediate impact for the Reds, regardless of the role. He's a gifted midfielder who should just be about to enter his peak seasons. That means now's the time to make a move.
The increased competition from Dortmund and Anzhi isn't ideal, but that doesn't mean Liverpool should back off. In fact, they should become even more active trying to reach an agreement before more clubs join the sweepstakes and push the price even higher.
Rodgers needs to make some bold moves if he wants to make up ground on the Premier League's top clubs. The basic foundation is in place, but players like Mkhitaryan are what it takes to reach the next level. Consistent producers in the prime of their career.
Bringing Mkhitaryan into the fold would not only provide a boost to the Reds' midfield. It would also make a statement that Liverpool are serious about moving back toward the top four and beyond.
The door for a deal appears open. Rodgers should do everything in his power to make it happen.