There have been rumours and speculation that Manchester United will offer Zlatan Ibrahimovic a new contract when he returns from injury. The Swede will be out of action until December through a knee injury.
Talking about Ibrahimovic United boss Jose Mourinho told the BBC: “If the decision is to stay and wait until December – he can’t be back until them – why not wait? We are speaking and exchanging ideas.”
That statement suggests that we have not seen Ibrahimovic in a Manchester United for the last time. For me, though it may be a mistake for the Red Devils to re-sign Ibrahimovic.
United have already signed a replacement
There was always a possibility that Ibrahimovic would only spend one season at United. The Red Devils decided not to trigger the clause in his one-year deal to extend his contract. That suggests that Ibrahimovic was surplus to requirements at Old Trafford.
In fact, United have already signed a direct replacement in the shape of Romelu Lukaku. The big striker arrived for a big fee and is one of the most prolific strikers in the Premier League. The former Everton striker is also only 24-years-old and viewed as the Red Devils central striker for many years to come.
When Lukaku moved to United, he knew he would be the main man up front. The striker knew there was little competition for his position at Old Trafford. If Ibrahimovic re-joined the Red Devils, then there would be and it is unclear how Lukaku would react to it.
Ibrahimovic has a big ego
Zlatan Ibrahimovic has been a great footballer in the last decade and a half. However, there is no doubt he is in the twilight of his career. The Swede still managed to score 17 Premier League goals last season.
Lukaku outscored the veteran superstar by eight goals in the top-flight last season. It would very surprising if Mourinho re-signed Ibrahimovic and played him ahead of Lukaku. If Ibrahimovic did rejoin the Red Devils, he would only be a backup to Lukaku.
Ibrahimovic has a big ego and it seems hard to imagine the Swede being happy sitting on the Manchester United bench for that long. United have moved on very quickly from Ibrahimovic, buying a younger model.
Maybe Ibrahimovic would not want to return to Manchester after the club failed to trigger his extension. Maybe his pride and ego would tell him to move elsewhere, where he could play on a regular basis.
One thing displayed throughout Ibrahimovic’s career has been that he likes the limelight. The Swede is unlikely to get much of the limelight sitting on the United bench.
Where next for Zlatan?
According to the bookmaker’s odds, Zlatan Ibrahimovic is more likely to sign a contract with an MLS club than Manchester United by the end of the summer transfer window. The Swede is currently odds of 11/10 to join a club plying their trade in the American top-flight.
Both LA Galaxy and new MLS franchise Los Angeles FC are interested in bringing the striker to the US. Ibrahimovic’s agent Mino Raiola has stated his client will stay in Europe. However, things can change very quickly in football, especially when Raiola is involved.
Raiola was the man who said that Romelu Lukaku would sign a new deal at Everton. Look what happened there.
I do not think Ibrahimovic returning to United to be a bit-part player is good for the player or the team. The 35-year-old could still play a crucial role at another club and still be an influential player. At United, he will not be anymore.
Ibrahimovic is a very different striker to Lukaku and the team would have to adapt their style of play to suit the Swede after a few months playing with Lukaku as the team’s main focal point. Last season the team thrived at times with the pace of Marcus Rashford and Jessie Lingard in attack.
Lukaku offers another pacey threat, while Ibrahimovic’s main strength is his football intelligence. He does lack the mobility of Lukaku.
All around, I do not believe that Ibrahimovic heading back to United is a good idea. However, if he does and it is successful then I will no doubt be eating humble pie.
Should Manchester United re-sign Zlatan Ibrahimovic?
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