Zlatan Set For United Exit
Jose Mourinho has confirmed that this is likely to be Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s final season at Manchester United.
The Swede hasn’t played since Boxing Day following a flare-up of the knee problem that ruled him out for seven months from April last year to the end of November.
Ibrahimovic damaged his anterior cruciate knee ligament in the Europa League clash with Anderlecht on 20 April last year. He didn’t play again until the Premier League game with Newcastle United on 18 November. He has made two starts and five substitute appearances so far this season for just 188 minutes of football.
“For Zlatan we all think it’s his last season at Manchester United,” Mourinho said at a press conference ahead of Monday night’s clash with Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park.
“It will be a very personal decision for him to play or to stop.
“I think he has won the right of choosing his life, his future. He is such an amazing player and had an amazing career.”
He added: “Only that awful injury in the wrong moment broke a fantastic couple of seasons he could and should have had with us.”
But Mourinho also said that Ibrahimovic does not feel at the right level of fitness to add anything to Manchester United’s performances this season.
“This season has been really difficult for him. He’s not injured, but does he feel totally happy, ready and convinced that he’s in conditions to help the team in this moment? No.
“He’s such an honest guy and such a champion he only wants to be back with that feeling of ‘I’m totally ready for it’.
“So he’s working hard and hopefully his evolution brings him to that level he wants to have a positive answer.”
Ibrahimovic Mulls Over National Team Return
Meanwhile, Ibrahimovic has been linked with a move to MLS side LA Galaxy. But the American club are hesitant about signing a player whose fitness is a major doubt.
However, the 36-year-old has held open the chance of a return to the Sweden national team at the World Cup this summer as a means of putting himself in the shop window. Ibrahimovic last played for Sweden at Euro 2016 where he failed to score in any of the side’s three group matches.
“I miss the national team,” he told reporters in Sweden on Thursday.
“When you’ve played for 20 years and you get to see the others playing in the national team, it’s hard. But it’s hard in general when you’re injured because you want to play – both for your club and your national team.
“It’s been my life for 20 years and suddenly I’m in a position where I’m not playing every three days. But I just have to accept the situation and fight. I can’t do anything else, but train and fight and set my targets.”
As for going to the World Cup finals in Russia this summer, he said: “We’ll see, it’s a tough question. I want to feel that I can perform and give something back. I don’t want to go just because of who I am.
“The door isn’t closed for anything. But first I have to play, we can’t start focusing on the national team when I’m not playing. But I feel alive when all the talk is buzzing, so that’s good.”