5 reasons why Manchester United should bring back Zlatan Ibrahimovic
He came, he said, he conquered and he left - and now it is time to bring him back again.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic signed for Manchester United on 1 July 2016 on a free transfer amidst huge fanfare. He had his share of critics and doubters; several news outlets opined he was past his best. Over the next nine months, Zlatan did what he has done his entire career – silence his naysayers.
His goal won Manchester United the 2016 FA Community Shield against Leicester City. He scored on his Premier League debut and a brace on his Old Trafford debut. He went on to score 17 goals in the league and 28 goals across all competitions.
On 26 February 2017, Ibrahimovic scored two goals in the EFL Cup final to clinch United’s fifth League Cup. He was included in the six-player shortlist for PFA Player of the Year and named in the UEFA Europa League Squad of the Season.
It seemed only a matter of time before Zlatan extended his Manchester United contract by at least one year. Jose Mourinho publicly approved of his mooted contract extension. Zlatan was still playing at the highest level and a large payday in China or US still seemed a long way away. Then came that fateful day on 20 April 2017.
Ibrahimovic suffered ligament damage in his right knee in the Europa League quarter final against Anderlecht at Old Trafford. The injury ruled him out of action at least until the end of 2017. What seemed unthinkable a few months ago turned into the only logical conclusion - Manchester United released Zlatan at the end of the season.
Yet, it seems the Zlatan-United story is yet to run its full course. After Lukaku’s signing was confirmed, Mourinho told reporters, “We spent because of what happened to Zlatan and we cannot allow ourselves to be without an important, strong striker for the first six months of the season.”
Whoa, hold it right there. For the first six months of the season? That is, till the Swede becomes available again? Surely you don’t mean to say...
On that note, here are five reasons why Manchester United should bring back Zlatan Ibrahimovic:
#1 To avoid over reliance on Lukaku
Last season, United struggled to break down teams that visited Old Trafford with the intention of defending staunchly and earning a point. The patterns were strikingly similar time and again – 1-1 Stoke, 0-0 Burnley, 1-1 West Ham, 0-0 Hull, 1-1 Bournemouth, 0-0 West Brom, and 1-1 Swansea.
It is clear that United need a striker like Lukaku to turn these draws into wins.
However, they cannot risk suffering a patchy run of form if Lukaku were to be unavailable for a sustained period of time. United’s reliance on Ibrahimovic last term was glaringly obvious – no other player scored even half as many as Zlatan’s 28 goals across all competitions.
Signing the 35-year-old would free up the pressure on Lukaku - and it will be a formidable duo for Premier League defences to keep at bay.