Why Zlatan Ibrahimovic offers much more than just goals

Zlatan Ibrahimovic

Quite incredibly Zlatan Ibrahimovic is picking up more and more critics by the week for his goalscoring record since joining Manchester United. The Swedish striker, who enjoyed his 35th birthday last Monday, has not scored in three Premier League fixtures, although it is important to note that the forward offers a lot more than simply just goals.

The striker, who signed on a free transfer from Paris Saint-Germain, has scored six goals in 11 appearances for Jose Mourinho’s side, which in reality is not too bad of a record. However, along with a handful of other United stars, Ibrahimovic has not been short of fans being on his back. With records such as Ibrahimovic’s it is slightly understandable why people expected goals galore when he penned his contract at the club, after all, in the last two seasons before signing for the Red Devil’s, remarkably the forward has scored 80 goals in 88 fixtures.

People will argue that goals is the one and only thing they expect from the 35-year-old given he is the main man up front for the club, although it is important to look at the bigger picture. Just because he has not been scoring hat-tricks or a brace week in week out, it does not necessarily mean he has played badly. He has not been putting in a storming nine out of ten performance each week, admittedly. Although, he has been useful in most fixtures with his ability to assist the team in creating chances, for example – everybody knows how much of a threat Ibrahimovic can be, defenders know they cannot give him any time or space or else they will be punished more often than not. Therefore, defenders concentration at several points of the game is mainly on him and his movement, so that leaves space for other attacking players to work in.

Furthermore, it is important to look at the way United’s Swedish hero has linked up play and his eye to spot other players attacking movements. On several occasions, Ibrahimovic has played swift one-twos with the likes of Jesse Lingard, Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial leading to some eye-catching attacking moves. He has also pulled many intercut one touch passes out the bag through to the aforementioned players, this is without mentioning how useful his hold-up play can be to the side.

The truth is, Ibrahimovic was never going to come to the Barclay’s Premier League and hit the back of the net 50 plus times in one season. That is not because he is older and ‘past it’ as some are, in my opinion, stupidly saying. But it is because of the level of competition that this league upholds, respectively. You must also remember he is still adapting to life in England, getting used to the culture and playing style. He has had chances to score more goals, nobody can deny that, but he is getting into the correct positions to give himself a chance continuously – something we certainly lacked last season, before Rashford’s breakthrough, so if he keeps doing that he will score more, for sure. Unluckiness has also played a part since the striker has had 28 pops at goal this season with 50% of them being on target. In the meantime, it is important you cast an eye over the Malmo-born man’s all-round play and not just focus purely on statistics which sometimes do not tell the full story.

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