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Does Zlatan Ibrahimovic deserve a contract renewal at Old Trafford?

Jose Mourinho has stated that Manchester United will extend Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s contract for another year before the team’s match against Feyenoord in the Europa League. The Swede moved to Old Trafford in the summer with an option of extending his deal for another season and it looks like the club want to take it. He has always enjoyed success throughout his career and will be eager to be a part of something special in England. It looks like this Manchester United side remains in transition, but they will strengthen further before the start of next season and Ibrahimovic will want to play his part in the club’s recovery He has never failed during his career and won’t want to start now.

“We are going to execute the option of a second season. After that he can do what he wants.”

That does tell us a lot about the current mood at Old Trafford as supporters have had doubts about both Jose Mourinho and his star striker. However, it is clear that the club remains behind both and this news should increase Ibrahimovic’s appetite for success. If he thinks he is going to remain at Old Trafford for another year, he will be hungry to finish in the top four in order to return to the Champions League. He has the potential to be a catalyst for change at United and an improvement is needed over the coming weeks to get his side into a position to challenge in 2017.

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Although there remains a lot of work for Jose Mourinho to do after a summer of heavy investment, there are signs of a better future for the club. They have two genuinely world class players in Ibrahimovic and Paul Pogba. Meanwhile the likes of Eric Bailly, Luke Shaw, Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford all have the potential to grow into top players. They need to find a system in order to grow an identity, but there have been glimpses of that in recent weeks as Jose Mourinho has moved away from his favoured 4-2-3-1.

There are advantages and disadvantages of keeping Ibrahimovic for another year. He is of course a very good player and has shown that already in the Premier League. The Swede has eight goals in 17 matches in all competitions, which is a good return in a period when he is settling into a new country. This ratio is likely to improve as he learns more about the English game over the coming months. Those that know him talk about the hard work that he does on the training ground and that will have a good influence on the younger players in the squad. United also need players with a winning mentality as they attempt to establish themselves at the top of the English game again. Ibrahimovic qualifies as that.

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On the other hand, he is going to be 36-years-old at the end of his contract, meaning that United aren’t looking at the future when extending the striker’s current deal. Marcus Rashford has been forced to play on the wing since Ibrahimovic’s arrival and that is unlikely to change until the Swede leaves the club. His development could be stunted by Ibrahimovic receiving a contract renewal and that will concern supporters. The striker also receives a significant pay packet, which could begin to become a strain for the club if he isn’t contributing as much as expected, especially if they miss out on the Champions League again.

It is a positive to have the speculation about Ibrahimovic’s future sorted at this early stage as it could have become a major distraction later in the season. It could be that Mourinho realises that the striker has the ability to make-or-break United’s season and if he is fully focused on his football, the former is more likely. At this current point in time, it’s uncertain whether this is a good move for the club, but it has certainly set Ibrahimovic with a challenge and from what we’ve seen from him in the past, he rarely fails to meet them.

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