Thursday, March 30, 2017

Zlatan Ibrahimovic the Peter Pan of football

Zlatan Ibrahimovic has now scored 23 times for Manchester United this season

Zlatan Ibrahimovic was at it again for Manchester United on Thursday night. The veteran Swedish striker scored a hat-trick against Saint-Etienne in a 3-0 Europa League victory.

After the win, he compared himself to that famous mythical Hollywood adventure hero Indiana Jones because he won wherever he went.

I would rather compare him to that other famous fictional hero Peter Pan, as he just does not seem to age.

Is he really 35 years old?

With any player arriving at a club in their mid-thirties, there will be questions asked about their stamina and fitness. The same questions were asked about Ibrahimovic, despite the fact that he arrived at United in last summer on the back of the most prolific goalscoring campaign of his career.

Earlier in the season, Ibrahimovic went through a rough patch and those questions reared their ugly head again. In fact, some even called for Ibrahimovic to be rested. Boss Jose Mourinho disagreed and carried on playing the Swede.

He may have been rested for the odd game, here or there, but he has been one of United’s most selected players this season. When a lot of modern players would be looking for a rest, Ibrahimovic seems to want to play every game. It is an admirable attitude.

Still prolific in front of goal

Ibrahimovic has now scored 23 goals for United this season in all competitions. That statistic will surprise some people, as the Swede seems to have done it under the radar. Ibrahimovic has now scored more goals than any other player in the Premier League this season in all competitions.

The hat-trick against Saint-Etienne was the 17th of his football career. It is unlikely to be the last of his football career that is for sure. Incredibly Ibrahimovic has surpassed the 30-goal mark in his last five seasons.

There will be few that will write-off the Swede equalling that tally this season. With United potentially having 28 more games left this season, seven more goals for the veteran striker looks almost inevitable.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic has won trophies and acclaim wherever he has played. However, his goalscoring record over the past few years has been sneered at because he was playing for PSG, in what is regarded as an inferior quality league.

United are not accustomed to having such a prolific player up front. No United player has broken the 20-goal barrier in the previous three seasons. Ibrahimovic has already hit that mark comfortably.

Ibrahimovic and goals go together like bread and butter. The Swede is now the joint-favourite to win the Premier League Golden Boot award at odds of 4/1, alongside last year’s winner Tottenham’s Harry Kane.

Contract expires in the summer

A major concern for Manchester United has to be the fact that Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s contract expires in the summer. A one-year contract seemed to suit everybody last summer. United could sign an experienced goalscorer on a free transfer, while Ibrahimovic could sample the Premier League.

Ibrahimovic’s ability to play in the Premier League had long been questioned. He has silenced his doubters, so maybe now he has proven his point he will move on this summer. The veteran striker would certainly be missed at Old Trafford.

United would certainly struggle to replace the impact he has on the team. More importantly, they would struggle to replace his goals. Prolific goalscorers are a rare breed these days. Ibrahimovic has made it look easy down the years.

Ibrahimovic has been linked with lucrative summer moves to the MLS and the Chinese Super League. However, the striker is likely to head to somewhere that he can conquer, as he stated earlier in the season.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic is showing very few signs of ageing or slowing down. Maybe the Swede is the Premier League’s Peter Pan or maybe even Dorian Gray. One thing is for sure if he is the latter, then the picture is definitely safe under lock and key.

It seems that Ibrahimovic is set to continue his reign of terror against Europe’s defence. I for one would not write-off the Swede continuing that reign into next season.

Will Zlatan Ibrahimovic sign a new deal at Manchester United?

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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