Jason Cairnduff / Reuters
Were it not for Jurgen Klopp, Henrikh Mkhitaryan could have been starring for Liverpool in Sunday’s meeting with Manchester United, and not the other way around.
The versatile Armenian attacker, 27, was a target for former Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers in 2013 while he was at Shakhtar Donetsk, but ultimately decided instead to move to Borussia Dortmund after Klopp paid him a personal visit.
“I spoke two or three times on the phone to Rodgers, he was saying he really wanted me and that I would get to play with Luis Suarez and Steven Gerrard,” Mkhitaryan told the Daily Mail.
“Half of me thought I had to go there, the other half was not so confident, that the gap to the Premier League might be too big for a skinny player from the Ukrainian League.
“Two weeks later, Klopp broke off his holiday on an island next to Denmark to come and see me in Dortmund. I knew he had a good reputation for working with younger players and, after we met, I felt more comfortable to sign for Dortmund. I think I made the right decision.”
Rocketing to stardom with the Bundesliga club, Mkhitaryan eventually made the high-priced switch to Old Trafford last summer.
After a slow start blighted by injury and a struggle to adapt to the Premier League – which has hindered many players to make the same move – he’s established himself as one of the standout performers for Jose Mourinho’s side.