Henrikh Mkhitaryan Roma 2019-20Getty Images

Mkhitaryan bites back at critics of ‘underrated’ Serie A after leaving Arsenal for Roma

Henrikh Mkhitaryan believes Serie A is “underrated”, with the Armenian preparing to prolong his time in Italy after sealing a permanent move to Roma from Premier League side Arsenal.

Prior to linking up with the Gunners, in a deal which saw Alexis Sanchez move in the opposite direction, a classy playmaker had spent time at Manchester United.

Mkhitaryan has also played for Borussia Dortmund in the Bundesliga and feels the Italian top flight is comparable in terms of quality to any of the other divisions he has graced.

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“Well, I can say that football in Italy is underrated,” he told Roma’s official website.

“It is not what people think, it is not what people say.

“Before I came here I was listening to a lot of people who would say the league is not good enough, the teams are not good enough… but I can say they are totally wrong. From the first game I had, against Sassuolo, I realised that Italian football is more than people talk about.

“I was really impressed with the quality of the players, even at the lower teams they have some great players. And all the teams want to have the ball, they want to attack, they are not only defending and waiting for the opponents to make mistakes. Instead, they are trying to play football, to enjoy the game and win some points.

“For me it was really impressive, because I wasn't expecting such a good level of football from all the teams. I am enjoying playing football here in Italy and I feel good playing against all the different teams.”

Mkhitaryan has joined Roma on a permanent basis after seeing Arsenal agree to the termination of his contract in north London.

The 31-year-old, who spent the 2019-20 campaign on loan at Stadio Olimpico, believes the best decision has been made for the good of his career.

“I always had it in my mind to play well and to help the team and then, at the end of the season, to see if we could get an agreement between myself, Roma and Arsenal to be able to stay here on a permanent basis,.

“I'm very happy to be here now. I think I made a good decision, the right decision for myself and my career, and I'm looking forward to another season here.”

On his ambitions at Roma, Mkhitaryan added: “I am playing football to score goals and to assist; but of course it is not always important to do that, because in some games you can have just an amazing performance without scoring or assisting – but you can still have a really big contribution to the team and to the win.

“So I think it is more important to keep working hard on the pitch and to make the team win, instead of thinking about scoring and assisting.

“But I am going to push, I am going to do my best to surpass my statistics from last season and to have better statistics next season.”