In the summer of 2013, Borussia Dortmund wanted as similar a replacement as possible for Bavaria-bound Mario Götze, and in Henrikh Mkhitaryan, they appear to have got it.
Admirable strike rate
Armenia has rarely been known as a hotbed of footballing talent, but Dortmund’s Mkhitaryan stands head and shoulders above the rest of his compatriots.
Voted Armenia’s footballer of the year in 2009, 2011 and 2012, the 2013 gong also looks like it will be a foregone conclusion for a man who netted 12 goals in the first nine games of the last Ukrainian season as Shakhtar Donetsk emulated FC Bayern München by knocking down numerous records on their way to the title.
Such a goalscoring ratio would be admirable for any striker, only Mkhitaryan is a midfielder by trade. He nevertheless set a new Ukrainian league record, scoring 25 goals in 2012/13 from a similar position to Götze, attracting the interest of many top clubs throughout Europe.
Football in the blood
Dortmund had already seen his talents first hand when they eliminated Mkhitaryan’s Donetsk from the UEFA Champions League in the first knockout stage in 2012/13, bringing an end to his ever-present stint in Europe.
The fleet-footed player seemed predestined for a career as a professional footballer from a young age. His father Hamlet shone at FC Ararat Yerevan in the 1980s before uprooting his family to join French club Valence. He died tragically of a brain tumour at the age of 33, when his son was just seven, and the family returned to Armenia, where Henrikh joined Pyunik Yerevan.
No language barrier
From there, he moved to Metalurg Donetsk before earning a move across the city after just one season, in which he scored 12 goals. A move to Germany's top-flight, not only represents a new step in his career, but also a fifth new language having already mastered French, Russian, English and Portuguese alongside his mother tongue Armenian.
Football and linguistics are common demoninators in his family too, with his mother head of the national teams department of the Armenian Football Federation and his sister, Monica, working for UEFA, interpreting for president Michel Platini ahead of EURO 2012. Perfectly suited to play a leading role in Dortmund's youthful frontline under Jürgen Klopp, the only way is up for Armenia's most prominent professional.