Jose Mourinho refused to criticise Henrikh Mkhitaryan despite the midfielder’s muted performance in Manchester United’s goalless draw with Southampton on Saturday evening.
The Armenia international’s future has been a source of relentless debate over the past couple of months after the attacking midfielder fell down the pecking order at Old Trafford.
The 28-year-old started his second Premier League game since a 1-0 loss to defending champions Chelsea on 5 November.
Mkhitaryan featured for a mere 45 minutes in a 2-2 draw with Burnley at Old Trafford on Boxing Day, while the Armenian playmaker lasted 65 minutes in a goalless draw with Southampton in their last home clash in 2017.
The former Borussia Dortmund midfielder has been linked with a potential return to the Bundesliga outfit in recent weeks, while Serie A giants Inter Milan have also been touted with an interest in the Armenian.
Asked about Mkhitaryan’s performances ahead of Manchester United’s dour goalless draw with the Saints, Mourinho replied: “He’s come on well with a good attitude, good dynamic and good enthusiasm.
“He gave something to the team in that second half [against Burnley last week] and so with Anthony Martial injured and Marcus Rashford playing 90 minutes of that match, it’s normal that I have to play other players when I can and have solutions in the squad to make that rotation.”
Manchester United brought in Mkhitaryan in a £30m deal from Dortmund in the 2016 summer transfer window after the attacking midfielder became the third signing of the Mourinho era.
The Red Devils are in third place in the Premier League table after Chelsea hoisted themselves above Mourinho’s side.