Ukrainians are demanding £25.5m for midfielder but reveal star has option of breaking his contract PLUS Rodgers on the Luis Suarez situation
Henrikh Mkhitaryan is ready to break his contract to force a cut-price £20million move to Liverpool.
The Mirror can reveal the Armenian midfielder is in dispute with his Ukrainian club Shakhtar Dontesk – and has effectively gone on strike – over the terms of that deal, which contains a clause allowing him to terminate it and move for that figure.
Mkhitaryan, who is being hit with a hefty daily fine after refusing to report for pre-season training, is adamant he wants to leave to try his luck in one of the major European leagues.
Shakhtar have slapped a £25.5m valuation on his head, but on Wednesday, chief executive Sergei Palkin reluctantly revealed the player DOES have the option of leaving for less… if he is prepared to break his current deal.
“Mkhitaryan doesn’t have a release clause in his contract, but it does spell out the penalties for unilateral termination of the contract, which is equal to $30m (£19.8m),” the British-trained accountant explained.
“If Mkhitaryan wants to terminate the contract, he must pay Shakhtar $30m and go to a club that he likes. If we go in a civilized manner and sell the player, and in doing so he does not break the contract, the value we place on him is 30million euros (£25.5m).”
Palkin also revealed the only official offer so far has come from Borussia Dortmund, who, conveniently, have bid the $30m mentioned in the player’s contract.
Mkhitaryan has yet to break his agreement, as he waits for an official approach from Liverpool, but it is understood that Anfield is his firm first choice, and that he is prepared to wait until an agreement can be reached to allow him to move to England for the £20m fee the Reds want to pay.
In the meantime, he is AWOL from Shakhtar’s pre-season and, as Palkin explained, accumulating a huge fine.
“Of course Mkhitaryan will be punished! He did not show up at training camp,” he added.
“In his contract, the penalties for such behaviour is all spelled out, so it is not a problem for us to fine him.
“Otherwise, there are no changes in the position. We have received an offer only from Dortmund for $30million, but our position is clear – we want to do a gentlemanly deal for 30million euros.”
Palkin’s revelations come soon after Shakhtar coach Mircea Lucescu said he wouldn’t stand in the way of the 24-year-old joining a club of the calibre of Barcelona or Real Madrid but couldn’t see the point of leaving a team who are Champions League regulars for one not even in Europe next season.
Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers remains keen to do a deal for the goal-scoring midfielder, though it is clear the Reds are reluctant to pay more than the £20m outlined in Mkhitaryan’s contract.
They are still quietly negotiating behind the scenes to persuade Shakhtar to avoid the anguish of forcing a player to break his contract, and come to terms that will ultimately be reached anyway.
Speaking on Wednesday, Rodgers explained that he hopes to make at least two more big-money signings this summer – an attacking midfielder and an accomplished centre-half.
“I’m very happy with the four players I’ve brought in, and they’ll add to the group, but we still hope to make a few more – certainly another attacking player will really benefit us, and probably another defender,” he indicated.
Mkhitaryan is the attacking player identified, and the Reds haven’t given up hope on their pursuit of Greece international Kyriakos Papadopoulos of German side Schalke, despite the player’s injury problems.
Rodgers also hinted he may be forced to find a replacement for £40m-rated striker Luis Suarez, for whom a move to Real Madrid is still very much on the cards.
“I think it depends on who goes out of the club, because naturally we’ll need to fill any areas that have been vacated – we’ll see how it develops over the course of the next few months,” he explained.
“Obviously, the plan was to get our signings in as soon as we possibly could, and we still hope to do that with a few more.”