Zlatan Ibrahimovic has been tipped by his trainer to return in December despite Mourinho’s ruling. Mourinho decided to rule the ex-Sweden international out in his mind till January when he got news of the injury sustained to the knee of the giant attacker.
Mourinho sanctioned the signing of Ibrahimovic on a one year deal after his contract expired at PSG. The news was met with mixed responses. Some fans were delighted to have the most decorated and widely traveled active footballer in the world at the time in their squad and they relished his pairing with Paul Pogba after Pogba was signed for a record fee in the same summer transfer window.
With players like Juan Mata, Anthony Martial Ander Herrera, Henrikh Mkhitaryan all in the same squad as those two, Manchester United FC looked like the team to beat on paper. Other fans, however, doubted his abilities with arguments that he was in his mid-thirties and way past his peak for the level of intensity and energy required by the premier league.
Mourinho who also brought back Didier Drogba in his title-winning season during his return to Chelsea is not one to run away from such risks. He said, “I know Zlatan he played for me in Inter, he has the attitude of a winner, he is a winner and I am a winner, I never have problems of working with a winner”.
Ibrahimovic seemed to be in a hurry to prove his doubters wrong by hitting the ground running. He became one of only 3 Manchester United players at the time to have scored in their first two appearances for the club (others being Macheda and Anthony Martial). He later went on to be the second of only 2 strikers, at the time, to score four goals in their first four appearances for the club the other being Robin van Persie. Both feats have since been matched by Romelu Lukaku, brought to supposedly take Ibrahimovic’s spot. Ibrahimovic got injured in April and played a total of 28 games in the league alone scoring 17 goals. With a total of 28 goals in 46 appearances he was the highest goal scorer for Manchester United in his first season.
Statistics such as this doesn’t usually come by easily especially when the striker is new to the premier league. This means that Ibra had some left in him at 35.
He is 36 now and the hunger he has is like that of a 17-year-old. This zeal is what has pushed him to the heights he has attained and they are not about to fail him now. These were his words very recently “The target is the Premier League. That is my target to finish. Everything I started in the first season, we will finish in the second one.” He isn’t even back yet and he is talking up the trophy.
A team chasing trophies on all fronts can certainly do with such a motivated member on and off the field. Lukaku seems like a good first choice striker for any top team but a team with a back-up with the pedigree and experience of Ibrahimovic especially during the business end of the season is certainly one to fear. He is still very clinical in front of goal, experienced and very ready to fight so his return will contribute immensely to how well Man United will finish the season.
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