How Zlatan Ibrahimovic fits in Man Utd's attack, and who will drop down to the bench

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Zlatan Ibrahimovic has today confirmed his long-awaited move to Manchester United, breaking the news on his Instagram account on Thursday afternoon.

With an ego as big as his, the Swede will not be moving to Manchester to warm the bench, he will be expecting to play as much football as possible under Jose Mourinho, who coached him while at Inter Milan in 2008. 

But how exactly will Ibrahimovic fit into the Manchester United team, and who will inevitably lose their place? 


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The Red Devils had three recognised strikers in their first team before the arrival of Ibrahimovic. Anthony Martial, Wayne Rooney, and Marcus Rashford all had playing time last season, as Louis van Gaal struggled to find a killer combination.

He often mixed and matched his players, and at times, seemed to not know where to play them in the team.

James Wilson, who was on loan at Championship side Brighton last year, also returned to Old Trafford over the summer, and it's not clear yet whether he will be sent out on loan again or stay to fight for his place.

Under Mourinho, life for United's strikers will be very different. The Portuguese coach usually prefers playing one attacker up front, allowing everyone else on the pitch to feed the ball up to him.

Once he has his main man, it's rare for him to chop and change his starting striker. This means that the same players who featured on regular occasions last year may now drop down to the role of a squad rotation player.    

Once Ibrahimovic joins, it's likely he will be picked as the first choice striker in most games. His record is phenomenal, scoring 113 times in 122 games for Paris Saint-Germain.

Stats like this won't be overlooked by Mourinho, who enjoyed his time with the player while at Inter, and he was likely a huge driving force behind United's interest in Ibrahimovic.    

Towards the end of last season, Martial and Rashford were being played as lone strikers, with Rooney feeding them from deep.

The arrival of Ibrahimovic will almost certainly lead to these two losing their starting places, however, the Swede is now 34-years-old, and will be unlikely to feature in every game of a gruelling Premier League season.

Having never played in England before, it will take Ibrahimovic some time to adapt to the physicality of the league - and not having a winter break is something he's never had to deal with before.

Unlike Europe's other leagues, England's top division is not split into two parts over the course of the year, and teams play straight through the Christmas period.   

So realistically, Rashford and Martial can both expect to get a fair amount of game time next year, although United's young forward, Wilson, will almost certainly have very limited opportunities in the first team. 

One player that definitely won't lose his place in the team is Rooney. Having adapted to a deeper role through the course of last season, and playing at the heart of midfield for England in Euro 2016, the arrival of Ibrahimovic will have less of an impact on him.

Despite the national side's poor performances in France, Rooney looked at home in the midfield role, picking out passes and controlling the speed of the game. A player like this is usually highly praised by Mourinho, who will want to keep Rooney in this role.   

Ibrahimovic's arrival will surely shake things up at Old Trafford, with both Martial and Rashford being given more competition for a starting place, meaning United now have the squad depth they need to fire them to success next season. 

How will Zlatan Ibrahimovic perform at Manchester United next season? Let us know YOUR thoughts in my comment section below!

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Wayne Rooney
Zlatan Ibrahimovic
Premier League
Cristiano Ronaldo
David Beckham
Manchester United
David de Gea
Ryan Giggs

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