Zlatan IbrahimoviA� is coming back. Not just to football, but to Manchester Uniteda��less than a year removed from suffering a horrific knee injury that had many doubting the 35-year-old could return at all, let alone with the prestigious Premier League side. Zlatan IbrahimoviA� is also going to be wearing Wayne Rooney’s famed No. 10. Simply, he is back to finish what he started.
But how much of an impact will he have? Romelu Lukaku is the No. 1 striking option for the Red Devils now. The fans know it. JosA� Mourinho knows it. But most importantly, I get the sense that Zlatan knows it as well. Sure he’s not going to just rot away on the bench, but let’s also not forget how long these campaigns can become. Lukaku isn’t going to play every single minute of every single match. Moreover, United are back in the Champions League now. Rotation is necessary. Rest is necessary. Mourinho knows he’ll need to keep the squad fresh. Lukaku knows he’ll need a breather from time to time.
That’s where Zlatan comes in.
Why wouldn’t you want to bring someone with his experience and ambition back? Why wouldn’t you want the presence of a man who notched 28 goals in 46 matchesa��17 in 28 Prem matchesa��back in your side? If he’s healthy enough, what’s the harm? Oh, and United doesn’t make this deal if they don’t believe that’s the case.
Some believe he will slow United down, like what is argued here. Maybe you could argue United never seemed to really kick on to the next level last season. However, they’re back in the Champions League due in part to Zlatan’s performances in the Europa League. And arguing that Lukaku will fold under the slightest amount of competition is a worrying take. Competition is healthy; it helps guard against complacency. Yes the Red Devils have looked like a well-oiled machine without Zlatan this season, but it’s only been two matches. They’ve also faced the likes of West Ham United and Swansea City. One has the looks of a mid-table side (at best) while the other is a genuine relegation candidate.
Point is, they’re not going to win every match 4-0. They’re not going to score four goals every week. They’re going to have to grind out results. Mourinho is going to have to change things up from time to time. A healthy Zlatan simply gives him a little more flexibility to do so.
We know Zlatan needs to be the focal point of every situation he involves himself in. That’s what’s made him so great for so long. But in United’s case, by all accounts his presence was felt just as much off the pitch as it was on it. His value stretches far beyond notching 20-plus goals per season. And, he’s smart enough to know and understand his role.
If Zlatan gets back to anything near his best, that’s just one more weapon at United’s disposal.