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Jose Mourinho dismisses concerns over Zlatan Ibrahimovic's age

The Manchester United manager feels that Ibra will rise to the Premier League challenge despite his age

Zlatan Ibrahimovich
Mourinho has backed Zlatan Ibrahimovic to have a major impact this season

Jose Mourinho has rubbished questions over Zlatan Ibrahimovic's motivation and fitness, of which an extreme level is demanded in the English game, as he spoke in an interview at the team hotel in Shanghai on Manchester United’s pre-season tour.

The new Red Devils manager believes the highly acclaimed striker has what is required to cope in the toughest football league in the world. On the contrary, he has tipped the prolific Swede to win the Premier League and extend his list of personal accolades. Furthermore, Mourinho discussed his role at the club and why he signed him.

“Let’s be honest, he (Ibrahimovic) is very rich,” Mourinho said. “He’s made money all his career, he’s won a lot of things, so you only come to the most difficult championship in the world if you feel you can do it.

“If you don’t feel you can do it, you go to America, China or stay in the French League one more season.

“So the guy wanted this one more challenge. When I told him that I had won in England, Spain, and Italy and he hadn’t, that he’d done Spain, Italy and France, he thought, ‘Ahh, I want to go. I want to win every one.’

“So his motivation is high and his body is amazing.”

Read: David Beckham tips Jose Mourinho to win the Premier League in his first season at Manchester United

Mourinho spent only one season with Zlatan during his time at Inter Milan. However, he seems to know every bit about what makes him a great player and an ideal fit at Man United. Disclosing his strengths and taking them into account, he expressed such confidence in the supreme forward that he allowed him to extend his vacation despite failing to progress at the EURO 2016. Left out of the pre-season squad to China, Mourinho believes his unique regime should prepare him for even the worst-case scenario and that age won’t be a concern.

He added, “On Sunday, he is going to start a specific programme we have prepared before he joins our group on Thursday, so he has five days just for him.

“I know him very well. I always think there’s our age in ID terms but then there’s our real age.

“For me, the real age is not the age on your ID. That’s just a date when you were born. The real age, the real ID is your body, your brain, your attitude and this guy is young, his body is amazing.

“The way he grew up playing the sports he did before football, especially martial arts, he was prepared in terms of his muscles and the mental point of view in a different way to the traditional football player, his DNA, his motivation.”

Read also: How has Louis van Gaal has laid a solid platform for Jose Mourinho?

Zlatan Ibrahimovich has a black belt in martial arts, however, Mourinho feels there is more quality in him that prompted the manager to sign him.

He continued, “Sometimes people say the team has no leaders, it’s this, it’s that, but what we need is everybody with the same kind of mentality. I like communication and push them to communicate.

“I give a lot of instruction in training. It’s difficult for me to do the same in matches so I need guys on the pitch to read the game, to understand what we want.

“Zlatan is going to be one of them and I feel already that we have guys to do the same. I don’t think we’re going to have a problem at that level.”

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