With Robin van Persie set to become the latest Manchester United player to leave the club this transfer window, manager Louis van Gaal must now prioritise signing a world-class forward in his place.
Last season, in a campaign where United stumbled their way back into the Champions League, their lack of a spearhead was obvious. With Van Persie on the wane and Radamel Falcao an expensive mistake, much of the responsibility fell on the shoulders of Wayne Rooney who himself failed to hit the same heights of old.
Which is why, if they are to register a first Premier League title since Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement two years ago, United need more. They need a forward unfazed by a transfer of expectation and with the pedigree to live up to the hype. Retirement may not be too far away but Zlatan Ibrahimovic fits the bill.
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Ibrahimovic has an ego that even the likes of Pep Guardiola and Jose Mourinho have failed to tame, but the Swedish maverick continues to ripen with age and netted 30 times in 35 appearances as Paris Saint-Germain scooped the domestic treble last term.
However despite the brilliance of his performances his future in the French capital is far from assured. With rumours of a rift between himself and Edinson Cavani continuing to persist, manager Laurent Blanc may be forced to offload Ibrahimovic in order to get his strike partner firing on all cylinders.
The 33-year-old has titles to his name in France, Spain, Italy and Holland but has yet to chance his arm in the English game. His physicality and lethality make him perfectly suited for the rigours of the Premier League, but whether or not Van Gaal can place his faith in such a divisive character remains to be seen.
If the Dutchman is to make his move for one of the world’s most consistent strikers this past decade then he may have to move quick, with Ibrahimovic the subject of much interest from former club AC Milan.
The San Siro outfit have found themselves entrenched in the dark ages ever since their last league title in 2011, but with Sinisa Mihajlovic now at the helm have already moved quickly to tie up the signings of Luiz Adriano and Carlos Bacca and require one more forward to possibly mount a title challenge.
A return to the club where he spent two years at appeals to Ibrahimovic’s character, with the Swede viewed as the final piece in the jigsaw. United must beware his emotional link to the club and make their move before Milan have a chance to pull at the heartstrings and bring the messiah back.