“Zlatan Ibrahimović, he is a Swedish hero, on a free from PSG he cost us fu…” okay we shall leave it there for now! The Big Swede was a revelation last season for Europa League winners Manchester United and was adored by the fans, hence the affectionate chant they created to the tune of Yankee Doodle.
However, it looks like his stay at Manchester United is over due to the major injury he suffered in April keeping him out until 2018. But where is the enigmatic centre forward going to next?
The former Barcelona man has been deadly in front of goal for the Red Devils and defied the expectations of many claiming he was ‘past it’, he’d struggle to keep up with the pace of the English game, and he’d hinder Marcus Rashford’s development.
Well scoring 28 goals in all competitions, working on his fitness over the summer and the young England striker saying he has been a great role model contradicts all the preconceptions which surrounded Ibrahimovic’s arrival.
Up until his injury, he was expected to get a new one-year deal at Manchester United, but the injury was so severe that United have decided to release him from the club. By the time Ibrahimović returns to playing it will be halfway through the 2017/18 Premier League season, and he will be 36 years old.
In some ways, this might be a blessing in disguise for Manchester United. Despite the positives from this season, Ibrahimović does slow down how they play. His absence allows Mourinho to play either Rashford or Anthony Martial in a more central role. However, that will not stop him looking at alternatives such as Alvaro Morata or Andrea Belotti to lead the line with the Spaniard and Italian both younger and quicker than the departing Swede.
The question remains, what next for Zlatan? There has been talk of a big money move to China in the past, and despite the offer of £120 million-a-year, this does not interest him. There has also been talk of a return to Malmo where he started his career, but you feel he has business elsewhere. Having stated that he “aims to outdo Napoleon” a move to America could be on the cards.
The move to the MLS would a possible one with the game ever growing and the standard improving each season, the former Inter Milan star could fit in comfortably alongside the likes of Kaka, Pirlo and Villa in the league.
The season would start again around March 2018, so that gives him plenty of time to go through rehab and get himself fully fit again. A move to L.A Galaxy would be the most obvious option due to their financial power.
There is one thing that is certain; he is not ready to hang up his boots for a microphone just yet (although we cannot wait to see him do that).
He will be fondly remembered at United and will leave with a treble to his name; even if it is not the conventional three trophies. So there is at least one more chapter to the Ibrahimović playing story, and the Yankee Doodle theme might yet come in handy if he moves across the pond. One, two, three “Zlatan Ibrahimović, he is a Swedish hero”.