'It's an honour to be Nashville's first designated player' - Mukhtar excited by MLS challenge

Hany Mukhtar has described being the first designated player in Nashville's history as an "honour", while insisting that he is unfazed by his status as an MLS star.

Nashville reached an agreement to sign Mukhtar from Danish outfit Brondby for a reported $3 million (£2.5m/€2.7m) at the start of December, and the midfielder joined up with his new team-mates in the United States a month later.

The 25-year-old spent three-and-a-half seasons at the Brondby Stadium, scoring 24 goals in 106 appearances, while picking up a Danish Cup winners' medal.

Mukhtar initially joined the club on loan from Benfica before making the move permanent in 2016, having failed to establish himself as a regular in the first team at Estadio da Luz.

The German playmaker was tipped for a bright future after being snapped up by Benfica as a youngster at Hertha Berlin, but was never quite able to live up to his potential in Portugal.

However, his experience of European football made him a huge draw for Nashville, who took their MLS bow in an inaugural fixture against Atalanta United on February 29.

Mukhtar played the full 90 minutes of the 2-1 defeat, and also featured in a 1-0 loss away to Portland eight days later before the 2020 campaign was suspended due to the coronavirus outbreak.

When asked if he feels any pressure to perform after being billed as Nashville's talisman, the former Germany U20 international told Goal and Spox: "No, it's an honour for me to be the first designated player in the club's history. The project totally convinced me.

"Something big is supposed to emerge here and in the first home game with 60,000 spectators, it was seen that MLS football would be accepted in Nashville. Unfortunately, our start with two defeats was not so great, although we actually dominated both games."

Mukhtar went on to describe how he has dealt with the weight of expectations throughout his career, before expressing his belief that everyone is starting on the same footing at Nashville.

"It is different whether you come to Benfica Lisbon as an 18-year-old perspective player without many appearances from Hertha BSC, or as a regular player and playmaker with a lot of experience from Brondby Copenhagen to an ambitious team like here in Nashville," he said.

"All in all, getting used to it was easy anyway, because everyone in the team is new and the situation is the same for everyone."

Mukhtar added on the increased media presence being the main difference between MLS and the European leagues he has experienced: "Dealing with the media was a bit of a shock.

"We are less than five minutes in the cabin and suddenly a horde of journalists is let in. Some players just stood around in their underpants, but some of them were already used to it.

"That's how it works in the US. I always shower a little longer now. I'm also protected a bit by our media department. Our captain Dax McCarty mostly takes over the main part."