Charismatic, arrogant, temperamental and the scorer of outrageous goals. To summarise the above traits in two words, Zlatan Ibrahimovic. ‘Ibra’ is a free agent after leaving Paris Saint-Germain, having scored 50 goals in 51 games last season and is name being heavily linked with host of clubs, most prominently Manchester United.
According to Sky Sports, here’s what Ray Wilkins had to say about the charismatic forward:
“I think he’s got the correct character, the correct standing in the game. He is Cantona-esque coming into Old Trafford. I think he’s got a lot in his legs. This guy would be a marquee signing and you haven’t got to pay any money for him, only his wages. United need characters, charisma back at the club and he would give them that. It would probably only be a one-year contract, but it’s well worth the gamble.”
But what impact does the dynamic Swede provide? Well, here are FIVE things Man United fans can expect from the Scandinavian superstar…
Having played for seven clubs (Malmö FF, Ajax, Juventus, Inter Milan, Barcelona, Paris Saint-Germain), the Swede brings in a lot of experience, which helps to balance the the squad. This experience is essential for the development of the young talent pool at Manchester United, which contains the likes of Anthony Martial, Marcus Rashford, Memphis Depay, Jesse Lingard, Adnan Januzaj and James Wilson.
The most talked about trait of Zlatan. He is touted as ‘Eric Cantona 2.0’ by many, thanks to his spiky personality and fierce ego. His presence on the field is expected to light up the atmosphere at Old Trafford and the fans might even witness some witty lines at press conferences. Don’t forget, he often refers to himself in third person.
He is also known for his pranks on team-mates could, which could prove important in maintaining a bubbly mood in the dressing room.
In 2014/15, Radamel Falcao failed to make much of an impact on the pitch for Manchester United, but in terms of shirt sales the Colombian performed phenomenally. In the week following transfer deadline day, the then new Man United No.9 shirt accounted for a whopping 33% of all Premier League shirt sales globally.
In the same season, Bastian Schweinsteiger moved up 27 places in the rankings and saw a phenomenal 795% increase in sales of his shirt.
Both the stars couldn’t play much for United, largely due to injuries, but Ibrahimovic could prove more bankable than most players in the Manchester United squad in terms of merchandise sales. Zlatan is rumoured to be close to signing a one-year contract (with an option for the club to extend that by another 12 months), so the jersey will surely massively boost sales.
The advantage of having Jose Mourinho as the manager is that ‘The Special One’ surely analyses the squad at his disposal and then decides the formation and tactics. Manchester United currently have many midfielders and three centre forwards (Wayne Rooney, Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford), so the equilibrium between the midfielders and strikers needs to be maintained.
Martial had a terrific debut season in an underwhelming Manchester United campaign and notched 18 goals and nine assists. The impending arrival of Zlatan might reduce game time for Martial (in his natural position at centre forward) and so he might be shifted to left wing (a problem for Depay).
Marcus Rashford, who has caught the eye by scoring on his first shot on target in Premier League, Europa League and his England debut, might settle for a bench role which could hinder his growth. A loan move may be on the cards.
Ibrahimovic has been involved in several violent incidents with team-mates and a coach
During his spell at Barcelona, ‘Ibra’ had a falling-out with coach Pep Guardiola, culminating in a dressing room incident in which the Swede threw a training-kit box across the room and screamed insults at Guardiola.
In 2011, he kicked teammate Antonio Cassano in the face while Cassano was speaking to reporters and kicked Rodney Strasser during a training session.
In March 2013, PSG winger Lucas Moura claimed that Ibrahimovic regularly insulted team-mates, stating “He always asks for the ball and insults a lot. He is sometimes a bit arrogant and complains.” Lucas later claimed, though, that the interview was twisted and badly translated. In May 2013, Ibrahimovic was filmed screaming at sporting director Leonardo after PSG’s title victory.