Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho has confirmed that Zlatan Ibrahimovic has returned to first-team training, though he is unlikely to return for this weekend’s Premier League game at Newcastle United. The 36-year-old suffered a minor recurrence of his knee problem back in December, and the club’s medical staff decided to give him an extended rest in order to avoid any further setbacks which could potentially end his professional career.
Ibrahimovic had begun his individual training regime earlier this month, and Mourinho has now confirmed that the big Swede is into full training with his teammates. Speaking to MUTV, he said: “The squad is good, everything is fine Eric Bailly and Daley Blind are the two players that are out. Zlatan started training with the team two days ago, so two days with the group and improving. We are fine.”
United decided to offer a fresh contract to Ibrahimovic in August after he showed good signs of improvement following a career-threatening knee injury. However, his return was rather subdued with most of his appearances coming off the bench whilst both of his starts versus Bristol City and Burnley led to disappointing results.
Mourinho pounced on the services of Alexis Sanchez ahead of rivals Manchester City during the winter transfer window, and the Chilean’s influence in the starting lineup has pretty much ended Ibrahimovic’s chances of earning a regular role. The Swede has already been linked with a lucrative move to Los Angeles Galaxy ahead of the new Major League Soccer season, but Mourinho has remained tight-lipped over the speculation citing that he would prefer Ibrahimovic stick with the club for the season at the least.
Ibrahimovic has scored just a solitary goal via a brilliant free-kick versus Bristol City, but he could yet contribute towards the club’s campaign from the bench, given they are still alive in the FA Cup and Champions League in addition to the domestic division.