Henrikh Mkhitaryan has shed light on his relationship with agent Mino Raiola, admitting it can be difficult to work with the larger-than-life Italian.
The Armenia international has had a working relationship with Raiola dating back to his move from Shakhtar Donetsk to Borussia Dortmund in 2013.
In the last four years, the ‘super agent’ has helped broker his move to Manchester United, the swap deal that saw him trade places with Alexis Sanchez at Arsenal and September’s loan deal to AS Roma. He’s also likely to try and extend Mkhitaryan’s stay in the Italian capital one way or another in the coming months. More on that in a moment.
“Sometimes it’s very interesting to work with him but sometimes it’s very hard,” he said.
“The most important thing is that he’s doing his best to make the players happy. If the player is not happy, he’s not happy too. He wants always the player to be happy, it doesn’t matter if that’s on or off the pitch. If one of his players is unhappy at some club, he will find a solution to get you somewhere you’ll play or enjoy life and your football.
“There are situations where he’s very tough and it’s hard to work with him. But it’s normal, you know? He’s the best at his job and I appreciate him. I really enjoy working with him but he’s very tough as a person and as an agent. Of course, he has his bad sides too.”
He went on to laugh at the fact his agent sometimes goes weeks without calling him back.
“I’ve had times where I call him a few times and he won’t pick up his phone. He’ll then call me back after a month and he’ll ask ‘why don’t you call me, have you forgotten about me?’. I’ll reply, ‘Mino, I’ve called you a few times and you’re not picking your phone up.’ He’ll just say, ‘Yeah, but call me a third time, a fourth time.’ He always has an answer!”
Given he’s getting rich off Mkhitaryan’s talent, the man has a cheek. But perhaps you don’t get where you are if you pick up the phone every time someone calls.
Mkhitaryan also touched on his desire to stay at Roma, something he’s spoken about a lot recently. After six months of Arsene Wenger, Micki didn’t much like life under Unai Emery and it seems he’s not particularly eager to return to the Emirates. To be clear, he says he won’t complain if that does happen this summer.
“I don’t know how long I’m going to stay here,” he said. “I like Rome as a city and AS Roma as a club, I wish I could stay here longer but it’s not up to me. I’m doing my best, I’m training, I’m learning Italian to improve so let’s see what’s going to happen next.
“The club and the philosophy of the manager suits me. I’m very happy to play this type of football because it makes me feel pleasure, it makes me enjoy playing football. It’s the only reason, I guess.
“Of course, I’d like to be at Roma next season and not just next season, for another few years. I still have a contract with Arsenal, it’s not up to me. It’s up to Arsenal and Roma if they agree the terms of the transfer fee.
“My thinking is to play hard, to train hard and to look forward. If I’m not going to stay at Roma and have to go back to Arsenal, I’m not complaining. Football life changes so quick, you have to be ready to play wherever you are. If not in Roma, I’ll go back to Arsenal. If not that, I’ll stay here and play for Roma.”
It’s well worth listening to the full interview, which covers his language skills, his absence in Baku and being Armenia’s first superstar footballer.
Mkhitaryan always comes across as a quiet, thoughtful, intelligent guy. Links here.