Like a fine wine, Zlatan Ibrahimović only gets better with age. The 35-year-old netted his 26th goal of the season in Manchester United’s 3-2 victory over Southampton in the EFL Cup final at Wembley Stadium and he could be set to sign a one-year contract extension before the end of the campaign.
Simply put, Ibrahimović is a superstar of European football and his relationship with Jose Mourinho has been key to United’s success this year.
The likes of Ander Herrera, Juan Mata and Anthony Martial have all profited since Ibrahimović arrived at Old Trafford and he just seems to have a unique ability to bring his peers on. Both at Carrington and on the pitch, United are benefiting from his unrivalled experience and advice.
Not only is Zlatan extremely talented, he is also a character and that is exactly what United need. The Red Devils are in dire need of personality and Ibrahimović brings that – it is one of the main reasons why Mourinho signed him. The Sweden icon will go down in history as a modern great; especially as he has now won major honours in four of European football’s top five divisions.
Ibrahimović, who has now scored 20 goals in his previous 22 appearances for United, isn’t getting any younger but why does age matter when he is playing this well?
Next up for the Red Devils is a home clash with Bournemouth and United, priced at 73/50 to win both halves in Sportsbet.io’s football odds, will fancy their chances of putting the Cherries to the sword as Eddie Howe’s side are winless in their last seven league games.
The difference between LVG and Mourinho. LVG would have already finished that bottle of wine and Mourinho already focusing on Bournemouth
— The United Link (@TheUnitedLink) February 26, 2017
Zlatan actually made his Premier League debut against Bournemouth back in August, firing a spectacular long-range effort into the bottom corner of the net.
The Sweden star exudes confidence and you feel as though he is going to score each and every time he takes to the field; plenty of United fans will be expecting yet another Zlatan masterclass on the hallowed Old Trafford turf.
The EFL Cup wasn’t exactly Mourinho’s number one priority this season but you could see just how much the victory meant to the entire squad; particularly Zlatan and world-record signing Paul Pogba. Both men joined United to win trophies and that is exactly what the Red Devils have managed to do; now all attention will turn to the race for the top four and the winnable Europa League competition.
At some stage, Ibrahimović will need a break but Marcus Rashford is capable of stepping up to the plate as and when he is required. The United youngster has already learnt a lot from Zlatan during his short stint at Old Trafford and he will only improve further if Ibrahimović decides to stay at the club for a second season.
Whilst Ibrahimović is the present face of United, Rashford is certainly the future and Mourinho will be pleased with both his progress and attitude.
He may be 35 years old but Ibrahimović is showing next to no signs of slowing down and it would take a brave man to back against the Swedish star in the race for the Golden Boot. In years gone by, individual glory and recognition have been very important to him on a personal level but United may have changed his standpoint.
He certainly looked very happy with his first piece of major silverware as a Red Devil; just as he did when leading United to the Community Shield back in August. United fans will have their fingers and toes crossed for news of a contract extension before the season is up…