Manchester United are slowly making progress under Jose Mourinho and their aim will be to challenge for the Premier League title next season. The club haven’t been serious title contenders since Sir Alex Ferguson retired in 2013, but they now have one of the best managers in the world at the helm again and they can’t afford to spend any more time outside of Europe’s elite. Although they haven’t been challenging for major honours in recent seasons, they remain one of the most talked about clubs in the world and are able to attract world class players. An example of that was Zlatan Ibrahimovic who moved to Old Trafford last summer, despite the club not being in the Champions League.
The 35-year-old has been a huge success since joining Manchester United and finally silenced the critics that doubted his ability to star in the Premier League. This season, he has scored 26 goals in all competitions. In the Premier League, he averages one every 150 minutes, which is a great return for any striker, let alone somebody coming to England late into his career. The Swede has scored 38.5% of United’s goals in the league, underlining how they rely on him in front of goal. After Ibrahimovic’s match-winning performance in the EFL Cup, Mourinho joked that supporters should go to his house and convince him to stay at the club past this season.
Despite his undoubted importance to the side this season, it may not be the worst thing if Manchester United and Ibrahimovic parted ways during the summer. There is concrete interest from LA Galaxy who are prepared to make him the highest-paid player in the MLS if he chooses to join them this summer. The Swede could finally capture a major European title this season if Manchester United win the Europa League and the final is set to be contested in Stockholm. It could provide the perfect opportunity for him to bow out of the European game in his home country.
It is easy to see why Manchester United will be looking to keep hold of him for at least one more season. He is a world class striker and he guarantees 20+ goals. It has been evident this year that his game isn’t getting worse with age and that he could continue playing at the highest level for the next few seasons. That said, he won’t remain at the club for the long term and that creates problems for Mourinho in terms of recruitment.
They have been consistently linked with a move for Antoine Griezmann, who could be the world class striker that the club could build around for the foreseeable future. A combination of Griezmann and Paul Pogba would be incredible. However, it is unlikely that the French international forward would fit into a starting eleven alongside Ibrahimovic. There isn’t room at Manchester United for two world class strikers and for that reason, the club may not be able to build for the long term until the Swede leaves. As well as their potential pursuit of Griezmann, United have Marcus Rashford’s playing time to worry about. He has started only 10 league matches this season and only a handful have come in a central position.
Ibrahimovic has been a great addition to the Premier League and it has been good to see him play in this country after such a decorated career across Europe. He has certainly played his part with lots of goals and some memorable moments, but this was always going to be a short-term marriage as the striker is now 35-years-old. If he gets Manchester United back into the Champions League and helps the team lift the Europa League in his home country, it could provide the perfect way to leave the European game. He would depart on a high and leave United with a platform from which to build on over the coming years.
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