Manchester United’s Zlatan Ibrahimovic is coming to the end of his career. A career that has seen him lift trophies in several different countries, including Spain, Italy, and France.
13 league titles in 15 seasons for six clubs in four countries to be exact, plus the Champions League and several other cup competitions.
He has also scored 392 career goals in 677 games in club football, and a further 62 in 116 internationally for Sweden. Excellent statistics clearly, but are they as impressive as he would like you to think? Has he ever been as good as what he likes to believe?
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Ibrahimovic comes with a reputation for being a top player, but that image is largely created by the man himself.
He is arrogant and can be difficult to work with, but in fairness, has usually delivered. Even when he doesn’t, his persona brings something to the table anyway.
When Eric Cantona, a similarly gifted yet incredibly arrogant player, suggested Ibrahimovic could not overtake him to become ‘King of Manchester’, the Swede responded by saying he would become ‘God of Manchester’ instead.
There are times when Ibrahimovic has not worked for certain teams – Barcelona is the obvious example, where he had a high-profile falling out with Pep Guardiola, now manager of United’s city rivals – but in the main, he has been a high performer.
He was successful in Italy with Inter Milan, crucially alongside Jose Mourinho, who he has now linked up with once again, and last season he scored 50 goals in all competitions for Paris Saint-Germain.
He clearly is enigmatic, and when managed correctly, in a team where his arrogance can be fulfilled by being the main attraction, he can be effective. However, when he is not seen as the star, as at Barcelona, where Lionel Messi, Andres Iniesta, and Guardiola himself were all more important in the eyes of the fans, it fell apart.
His arrogance can often be his downfall. Jose Mourinho will know this, and will manage him correctly.
Manchester United fans will also get behind him, in the same way the fans of PSG did, and with the backing of the boss and the fans, he should be a successful signing.
The £300,000-a-week contract is clearly excessive, but he was signed on a free transfer which offsets the cost, making it more reasonable in a league where the cost of signing players has gone through the roof.
At the age of 34, Ibrahimovic is approaching the end. The Europa League is not what his ego would have wanted, but he now has the chance to prove himself in a league he has never experienced before.
There are issues like his lack of pace and mobility, which will of course not suit the Premier League, but give him chances and goals will probably come. Even if they don’t, there will be some outlandish quotes to make it all seem worthwhile anyway.
Ibrahimovic can, and will, be important for Manchester United’s success this season, and while he might not be the player he once was (or even the player he believes he is), Jose Mourinho is the right man to make the most out of him – he has proven as much before.
Losing the arrogance would be beneficial, making him more of a team player, but let’s be realistic, it’s Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
Can Zlatan Ibrahimovic be a success at Manchester United? Leave us YOUR thoughts in the comment section below!