The worst-kept secret in football has finally unveiled itself to the public. Zlatan Ibrahimović is joining Manchester United on a one-year deal from Paris Saint-Germain, after his contract expired on June 30.
The Swede’s contract with the Red Devils is ought to be in the region of £220,000 per-week, which makes him one of the best paid players in the Premier League.
There have already been doubts about whether the 34-year-old may be another flop like Ángel di María or Radamel Falcao, but even if he is on the pitch, there are a lot of things off the pitch he can excel at. For instance, with the emergence of young Marcus Rashford, who’s only 18-years-old, Zlatan can tutor him and pass on his wealth of knowledge to the striker.
As Rashford’s only broken through to the first-team in February, there should be no one expecting that the English forward can spearhead a new-looking Manchester United team for 50 games per-season. It’s unfeasible and you won’t see the best out of him that way; he needs time to grow into the player he wants to be. If the Red Devils are relying so heavily on an 18-year-old striker, then quite frankly, it’s all going to end in tears.
That’s why the signing of Ibrahimović is so important. The Swede has an ego the size of the stratosphere; he isn’t fazed about what’s said about him in the press and he certainly sets himself standards higher than anyone would expect of him. Zlatan has a tendency of relieving the pressure of his other teammates and taking the burden on his shoulders. He’s an egomaniac, but one that Manchester United so desperately needed.
Over the course of the last few years, under David Moyes and Louis van Gaal, there has been a distinct lack of natural born leaders. You can argue Wayne Rooney might be one because he’s captain, but in hindsight, he’s really not. There’s no one to cause a fuss and get absolutely apoplectic when things aren’t going your way – to fire up the Red Devils. Now that’s changed. Zlatan’s in town and he’s teaming up with his old friend José Mourinho, another volatile character.
You can almost sense that the tide is now changing. It’s going upstream. No more passive, timid and insipid play from Man United, it’s now front-foot type football. Mind games galore. Back to being hated, adored and never ignored.
With Zlatan on board, not only will it completely ease the pressure off the youngsters of Anthony Martial and Rashford, but it’s also a statement of intent to other clubs: “Hey! Look at us, we might not be in the Champions League this year, but we’re ready to return to the top!”. Again, doubters will do their thing and say he’s a washed up 34-year-old, but anyone that’s scored 113 goals in 122 appearances for their last club over four-years is pretty phenomenal. Not to say that Zlatan’s scored 50 goals in 56 appearances last season in all competitions.
It’s a new era for Manchester United, and with the likes of big-named players such as Zlatan Ibrahimović, it’s going to be one rocky – but enjoyable – ride. Buckle up, Man United fans, this is the moment you’ve been waiting for.
By Liam Canning – you can follow Liam on Twitter @OffsideLiam
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