Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho has publicly criticised Henrikh Mkhitaryan for "disappearing" in games this season.
The Armenian international started the season on a brighter note, registering five assists in the first three Premier League fixtures. Since the end of August, he has managed to score twice and has failed to register an assist in all competitions.
Mkhitaryan's poor form forced the Portuguese tactician to drop him from the squad for the last two games, against Newcastle United in the league and Basel in the Champions League. The former Real Madrid and Chelsea manager stressed that he has several options in that position, which convinced him to drop the 28-year-old.
"I was not happy with his last performances. I'm not speaking about one or two, I'm speaking about three, four or five," Mourinho explained, as quoted by the Guardian.
"He started the season very well and after that, step by step, he was disappearing. His performance levels in terms of goalscoring and assists, pressing, recovering the ball high up the pitch, bringing the team with him as a No10, were decreasing.
"That was enough [to drop him] because the others worked to have a chance. Everybody works to have a chance. It's as simple as that."
United host Brighton & Hove Albion in the Premier League clash at Old Trafford on 25 November. The 20-time English champions manager has confirmed Mkhitaryan will make a comeback into the squad but refused to confirm if the playmaker will start on Saturday.
"I don't know if Mkhitaryan will start but, for sure, he will be back in the group. For him to be back to the group, it means that somebody is going to leave the group," the Red Devils manager stressed.
"When you play a lot of matches, training is difficult to judge because in the end you train in small groups.
"You have always the group that played the last match, you have always the group that didn't play, you have one group of, let's say, 10 recovering from the last match and you have another group of eight, nine or 10 that are trying to train.
"I cannot say that when you play so much, training is the best habitat to analyse players. I would say in the match, and then sometimes in a couple of minutes, you see things.
"Then, you don't need sometimes to play 40, 50, 60 minutes for the coach to have feelings and have data to analyse. So I would say it's on the pitch, especially on the pitch. Tell me on the pitch what you want to do in the next match [should you be retained]."