Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Still life left in that old-timer Zlatan Ibrahimovic

David Nugent in Editorial, English Premier League 18 Dec 2016

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Veteran Swedish striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic has returned to scoring form of late

Veteran Swedish striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic has returned to scoring form of late

Manchester United’s veteran superstar Zlatan Ibrahimovic has endured contrasting fortunes since joining the Red Devils on a free transfer from PSG in the summer.

The 35-year-old seems to have hit form again in recent games, having scored a brace in United’s 2-0 win at West Brom on Saturday evening.

The striker has now scored ten goals in his last nine appearances for United. Question marks over his age and fitness seemingly now dispelled.

Quick to doubt Ibrahimovic

When United signed the striker I really did believe it was a shrewd move by Jose Mourinho. He looked in fine shape and his age did not seem to matter much. Ibrahimovic was a player of proven quality so the signing seemed a no-brainer.

My instincts seemed to have been proven right in the striker’s first couple of games. However, I have to admit that when he scored just one goal in 11 games I did start to doubt the striker. He is the sort of super confident guy who probably never doubted his chances of being successful in England.

Others certainly did doubt him and the old questions about his age and his fitness reared their ugly head. It was only inevitable considering he is a player in the latter stages of his career.

Inevitable return to form

It was inevitable that the striker was never going to be down for long. It was only a matter of time before he returned to form and started scoring goals again. Love him or loathe he is a tremendous goalscorer and big character.

Ibrahimovic now has seven goals in his last seven Premier League appearances. He also has 11 top-flight goals for the campaign, which puts him just two goals short of the league’s top scorer Diego Costa in the standings.

Ibrahimovic found the net 52 times for French big spenders PSG last season. He has been prolific wherever he has played Sweden, Holland, Italy, Spain and France. The Premier League was unlikely to get the better of him.

The veteran star is a natural born goalscorer and the arrogance he often displays with outlandish statements are actually backed up by his actions on the field. He can talk the talk, but he can also walk the walk.

That supposedly ageing body is not doing so badly at the moment. He has shown great stamina in recent games, as late goals against the likes of Zorya and Crystal Palace have proven.

There are now far fewer people questioning Ibrahimovic’s age and fitness courtesy of his return to form. Whether those questions will return if he once again endures a goalless run remains to be seen.

Despite his advancing years, he has never lost his football intelligence, though. That is probably the attribute that will keep the striker scoring goals for much of the campaign.

Contender for the Golden Boot

When the campaign started Zlatan Ibrahimovic was regarded as one of the favourites to win the Premier League Golden Boot. The Swede may have drifted in the betting of late but is currently the fourth favourite to win the award this season at odds of 6/1.

The likes of Sergio Aguero, Alexis Sanchez and Diego Costa are likely to be the Swede’s main rivals. However, if he stays fit and continues his recent good form he still has to be a contender.

Ibrahimovic was brought in to help United recapture the glory days. The striker only signed a one-year deal, so it was always likely to be difficult for him to fire the Red Devils to the title, especially in the face of such opposition as the likes of Arsenal, Liverpool and Chelsea in particular.

The veteran striker may not help the men from Manchester to the top-flight title this season, but at least he has proven his doubters wrong this season. By the looks of things, he will continue to do so for the rest of the campaign and continue to score vital goals in the process.

Can Zlatan Ibrahimovic win the Premier League Golden Boot this season?

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

David Nugent


David is a freelance football writer with nearly a decade of experience writing about the beautiful game. The 33-year-old has written for over a dozen websites and also an international soccer magazine offline.
Arguably his best work has come as an editorial writer for Soccernews, sharing his good, bad and ugly opinions on the world’s favourite sport. During David’s writing career he has written editorials, betting previews, match previews, banter, news and opinion pieces.

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