"[Mkhitaryan] felt a tweak [in his thigh]," Borussia Dortmund manager Jurgen Klopp said, per BVB.de. "It's very likely that he'll miss the rest of the first half of the season."
Dortmund secured Mkhitaryan before Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers had time to memorise his recruiting spiel.
Despite the commonalities of the No. 10 shirt, world-class technique, burden of high expectations and being a natural game-winner, Mkhitaryan distanced himself from Gotze, the ex-Borussia Dortmund star.
"[Gotze is] a very good player, but a different type of player," Mkhitaryan said, per FIFA.com. "You can't really compare the two of us."
|Goals Per Game||0.37||0.29|
|Goals Per Minute||184||274.4|
|Shots Per Goal||5.2||7.8|
|Shots On Target %||44.2||42.9|
|Key Passes Per Game||1.4||1.6|
|Pass Completion %||87.9||76.7|
|Passes Per Game||44||36.5|
|Dribbles Per Game||3.6||2.9|
Gotze was a more statistically superior footballer than Mkhitaryan last season.
However, Mkhitaryan was a more financially efficient transfer.
Mkhitaryan cost Borussia Dortmund €1.4/£1.1 million per goal/assist, compared to Gotze's €2.1/£1.7 million.
Subjectively, the German press graded Mkhitaryan higher than Gotze.
Why was this the case?
Mkhitaryan scored, assisted, opened up opposing defences with his dribbling, hassled to win back the ball and functioned in different roles.
Presumably, Bild and Kicker viewed Mkhitaryan as a more all-round footballer than Gotze.
"I'm not worried about the transfer fee," Mkhitaryan said, per Eurosport. "I hope Borussia Dortmund don't regret a cent of it."
|Goals Per Game||0.50||0|
|Goals Per Minute||134.4||0|
|Shots Per Goal||3.9||0|
|Shots On Target %||44.4||20.6|
|Key Passes Per Game||1.6||1.6|
|Pass Completion %||86.3||72.8|
|Passes Per Game||41.6||37.7|
|Dribbles Per Game||1.8||3.8|
Mkhitaryan's debut Bundesliga season was meant to be a stepping stone toward greatness. Instead, he has had a dramatic regression both statistically and subjectively.
The poster boy of "absolutely pointless" football is Mkhitaryan, who at times runs aimlessly, misplaces simple passes and is a wasteful shooter.
His volume shooting is nothing new, having choked in front of goal against Real Madrid.
"People watching must have thought I was trying to miss, when in fact I was the guy on the pitch who wanted to score most," Mkhitaryan said, per Die Welt (h/t Bernie Reeves at Bundesliga.com). "It was an unhappy moment in my life. ... Sometimes life is like that, though."
Going from scoring 29 goals in a season for Shakhtar Donetsk to no goals in 936 minutes of Bundesliga play indicates there is a mental disconnect when Mkhitaryan shapes up to shoot.
Regarding Mkhitaryan's shooting form, you can only surmise that what use to be an instinctive feeling has been replaced by doubt and hesitancy.
Those two negative adjectives also describe the current abject state of Mkhitaryan's football IQ, which was his best attribute, according to Shakhtar Donetsk manager Mircea Lucescu.
"[Mkhitaryan's] game awareness is perhaps his most valuable quality," Lucescu said, per Jonathan Wilson at The Guardian. "He's one of the players who most consistently fulfils the tasks set by the coaching staff."
Mkhitaryan giving away possession 27.2 percent of the time he passes shows his awareness levels have declined from very high to very low.
It is not a lack of passing ability, as Mkhitaryan is a two-footed technician who trained alongside Lucas Moura, Hernanes and Oscar at Sao Paulo.
Slow decision making, an inability to read the movements of opposing defenders and holding on to the ball too long have factored into Mkhitaryan's drastic form slump.
It is not all Mkhitaryan's fault, however, because Klopp is partly culpable.
"Mkhitaryan fits us like a [backside] in a bucket," Klopp said, per Bild (h/t ESPN FC). "What he offers is exactly what we need."
Actions speak louder than words.
Mkhitaryan was the main man under Lucescu, yet he is treated by Klopp like a utility player.
Mkhitaryan lacks an identity at Borussia Dortmund.
Shifting across midfield and being asked to do more defending (27 tackles, 17 interceptions), Mkhitaryan would function better as a No. 8 than a No. 10 or No. 11.
This is the antithesis to what Borussia Dortmund sporting director Michael Zorc envisioned Mkhitaryan as, per BVB.de: "We are delighted that we got a fantastic new signing [in Mkhitaryan] for the [central] attacking-midfield role."
Klopp is to Mkhitaryan what Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger is to Mesut Ozil.
"Liverpool...have a great past, but BVB have a great present," Mkhitaryan said, per BVB.de. "BVB [will] never regret for a second the money spent on me."
- Past: Bundesliga champions.
- Present: On course for 2. Bundesliga.
- Future: Possible byword to Klopp's firing.
"No more [Marcio] Amoroso deals," Borussia Dortmund chief executive officer Hans-Joachim Watzke said in 2005, per Deutsche Welle, a reference to the pricey Brazilian's confidence and injury-riddled tenure at the Westfalenstadion.
When not specified, statistics via WhoScored.com.