Manchester United have today announced the signing of 34-year-old Swede Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Formerly a Paris Saint-Germain player, Ibrahimovic’s contract expired yesterday, allowing him to become a Red Devil today. Ibrahimovic played for his country, Sweden during the European Championships in France earlier this summer, with Sweden being knocked out in the group stages of the tournament. Ibrahimovic retired from all forms of international football, including the Olympic games, which are due to be held in Rio de Janeiro in Brazil later this summer. The 34-year-old has achieved a lot in his career, scoring more goals for his club last season than Manchester United scored in their entire league campaign. Goals were missing from United last season and with Ibrahimovic coming with bags of experience and potential, that could be something that United take advantage of.
Last season, Manchester United had Anthony Martial, Wayne Rooney, and Marcus Rashford to lead their line. Martial played predominantly as a left-winger, Rooney, after injury and loss of form, a midfield role, with Rashford leading the line from his debut at the end of February right the way through until the end of the season. Whilst all three did well, more experience was needed, which is why Ibrahimovic was a good choice. Now that Jose Mourinho has become the new Manchester United manager, a manager which Ibrahimovic would go to the ends of the earth for, things might start to pick up for the Old Trafford club this coming season. After the retirement of Sir Alex Ferguson just over three years ago, the club has in effect failed to get back on its feet, which was expected.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic is a successful player, winning 13 league titles in the Netherlands, Italy, Spain, and France, also winning 17 other major honours in the same countries. The Swede has played a total of 677 matches for seven clubs; Malmo, Ajax, Juventus, Inter Milan, Barcelona, AC Milan and Paris Saint-Germain, scoring 392 goals in total. For Sweden, Ibrahimovic has played 116 matches over the last 15 years, scoring 62 goals. Manchester United may well be the end of the road for Ibrahimovic, although he may choose to end his career in the United States of America or even in China, we shall see. Euro 2016 may not have been the best period for him after leaving PSG as he failed to score a single goal in the three matches Sweden played in the tournament.
Last season, in his final season for Paris Saint-Germain, Ibrahimovic scored 51 goals in 50 matches in all competitions; 38 of those were scored in 31 Ligue 1 appearances – with PSG lifting the title for their fourth successive year. Whilst I would be surprised to see the Swede score that many goals for Manchester United this coming season, I do feel he will bag plenty of goals, which is something that United need. Jose Mourinho has started his reign as United manager with a good start, securing a new central defender in Eric Bailly, the Ibrahimovic and Henrikh Mkhitaryan likely to follow this weekend. Central midfield seems to be the other area that the Portuguese manager wants to strengthen with Paul Pogba currently heavily linked to his former club. Ibrahimovic has a lot of experience and many suggest he is past his sell-by date, but they fail to see that he is a player at his peak and in good physical condition. His experience will also be something that both Martial and Rashford gain from too, helping their development at the Theatre of Dreams. This season, Manchester United will play in the UEFA Europa League, from the group stages – with the final being played at the Friends Arena in Stockholm – which could well be an omen to lift the trophy – I am sure Ibrahimovic will be open to achieving that!
Speaking to the official Manchester United website about signing for the Old Trafford club, Zlatan Ibrahimovic said:
“I am absolutely delighted to be joining Manchester United and am looking forward to playing in the Premier League. It goes without saying that I cannot wait to work with Jose Mourinho once again. He is a fantastic manager and I am ready for this new and exciting challenge. I have thoroughly enjoyed my career so far and have some great memories. I am now ready to create more special memories in England.”
Jose Mourinho, the Manchester United manager, speaking about working with Ibrahimovic again, said:
“Zlatan needs no introduction. The statistics speak for themselves. Ibra is one of the best strikers in the world and a player who always gives 100 per cent. He has won the most important league championships in the world of football, now he has the opportunity to play in the best league in the world and I know he will grasp this opportunity and will work hard to help the team win titles. I am certain that his talent will delight fans at Old Trafford next season and that his experience will be invaluable in helping to develop the younger players in the squad.”