The public courtship between Liverpool Football Club and Henrikh Mkhitaryan took a turn for the bizarre today as Shakhtar Donetsk chief executive, Sergei Palkin, has openly criticised the Armenian international for failing to return to the club for pre-season training.
The Ukrainian club are at a training camp in Austria as part of their build-up to the new campaign but the twenty four year old midfielder has not appeared back from his holidays, prompting Palkin to threaten him with fines and disciplinary action from the club.
Palkin was clearly infuriated by the player's behaviour and made a point of reiterating that there had been no contact from Liverpool with Shakhtar over a potential switch for Mkhitaryan.
"Mkhitaryan did not come to the training session yesterday but he had to -- we do not know why," Palkin fumed at Russian newspaper Sportsdaily. "If he does not join the team in the coming days, he will be fined. Concerning Mkhitaryan's behaviour, I know that he does not have any problem with his team-mates and coaches and we have not heard from him about his intention to leave Shakhtar."
From a professional behaviour point of view, this is clearly poor form from Mkhitaryan. From a couldn't give a damn about any other club once the guy signs for us point of view, it's very interesting indeed. Despite some gloomy pessimism about the likelihood of the Armenian joining Liverpool, I still feel that the move will happen, but then I may still be drunk, so disregard any of my hunches -- I once bet on Djibril Cissé to be Liverpool's top-scorer.
Palkin was still toeing the party line as regards any approaches about Mkhitaryan and before you waste time, like I have, making up songs for the potential new boy in the LFC midfield -- current favourite is a version of Toni Basil's 'Hey Mickey!' -- you would do well to hear his austere words on the subject, once again.
"All the questions about Mkhitaryan's behaviour should be addressed to him. I am certain the the negotiations between them [Liverpool and the player] is just rumour. No offer for Mkhitaryan has been made at Shakhtar."
Right, so I guess that means I should shelve my reworking of Nick Cave's Henry's Dream as a flowery and vaguely stalker-ish tribute to Henrikh -- at least until he's been spotted in John Lennon airport.