Is there still a place at Manchester United for Zlatan Ibrahimovic?

After a very successful first season at Old Trafford, Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s second season hasn’t gone according to plan. This term has been halted by injury and a lack of playing time, and at the ripe old age of 36 is his time at Manchester United coming to an end.

There has been continued speculation that this year might spark then end of his time at United in favour of pastures new, across the pond in the MLS. It would be a crying shame after the impact he had in his first season at Old Trafford, where he won two trophies and led United back into the Champions League.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic arrived in Manchester a proven winner, one of the reasons that Jose Mourinho decided to bring him in. He had won league titles and domestic trophies in every country he had played in scoring plenty of goals along the way, including becoming Paris Saint-Germain’s record goal-scorer in all competitions.

He had a wonderful first season at United after signing as a free agent from PSG. He scored the winner on his competitive debut in the Community Shield against Leicester, and then on his league debut in a 3-1 win away to Bournemouth a week later. In February of the 2016/17 season, the Swede became the oldest player in Premier League history to score 15 or more goals in a single season.

The highlight of the season, for Zlatan came in the League Cup final win, where he scored twice and stared in the 3-2 win at Wembley, which marked his first trophy in England and the twelfth domestic cup of his career.

His first season was an overwhelming success scoring 28 goals in the process, as well as being nominated for the PFA Player of the Year. However, the injury he sustained towards the end of the last season, dampened his hopes to play in the Europa League final in his home country as well as a possible end to his United career as he was only on a one-year-deal.

Nevertheless, United decided to extend his contract and the Old Trafford faithful were excited to have a forward line of Romelu Lukaku and Ibrahimovic. Unfortunately, that hasn’t been the case this season, and the Swede has only managed to make five appearances, four of those being off the bench.

Yes, when he returned he hadn’t played competitive football for nigh on seven months so it was understandable it would take him time to become match fit and slot back into the squad. The form of Lukaku at the time didn’t help as well, which made it tough for him to get a game. He then sustained another injury only a month after he returned from a serious knee injury which again has cast doubt on his future at Old Trafford.

However, he could still prove a vital player for United not just when he returns this season, as he would provide welcome back up for Lukaku who rarely gets a rest, but he could prove vital for seasons to come.

He is in the twilight of his career, but he is a man who keeps himself incredibly fit and lives a low-key family orientated life. It might not be that he plays week in week out but to have a striker of his calibre on the bench will put fear in defenders and it is obvious he still knows where the net is.

Not only could he prove vital on the pitch but off it as well. United have a core of young attacking talent that needs nurturing not only by the manager, but by players who have been there and won the biggest trophies in football, and have had a sustained career. Players like Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial, and Romelu Lukaku could really learn a thing or two off of the Swede, his advice and methods could really turn them into world-class players.

Zlatan may be coming to later part of his career, but he still has a lot to provide other than just on the pitch. He feels he has a lot more to give in terms of playing and no doubt that United could use a back-up to Lukaku of his nature and class. But to just have the big Swede around the place on a day-to-day basis could prove vital as United look to get back to where they once were, the top of English and European football.

Written by Dan Pearce

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