Zlatan Ibrahimovic

Getty Images

Mourinho: Ibrahimovic could return in December

Leave a comment

Dare to Zlatan? It could be only a couple of months away.

That’s according to Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho, who said the veteran striker could return from his torn ACL before the end of the calendar year.

[ LIVE: Stream every Premier League game ]

“Zlatan is here, he’s working here and under our control,” Mourinho told reporters. “He’s working as you would expect so, so, so hard. But he’s not to be back in the next week or next couple of weeks. Do I believe he’ll be back in 2017? Yes, I do. But it’s just a feeling.”

The big Swede scored 28 goals for Man United last year in all competitions, proving that he’s still got it at the age of 36, but it’s going to be tough for him to find his old form coming off an ACL injury at such an old age. After suffering the injury last April, it’s been a long road to recovery for Ibrahimovic.

However, with the play of Romelu Lukaku up top, Ibrahimovic would only play from time to time, which could help in his recovery both from the knee injury and just the general recovery between games.

Costa omitted from Chelsea Champions League roster

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Diego Costa, despite being reportedly advised by Atletico Madrid to return to Chelsea training, has been omitted from the Blues’ Champions League roster.

With the Spanish international still in his native Brazil and refusing to train with Chelsea after being left out of Antonio Conte‘s first-team plans, he has put himself in a difficult position.

The club he wishes to rejoin, Atletico Madrid, reportedly told him it is in his best interests to return to Chelsea training to ease tensions with hopes of a January move still on the cards.

Had Costa moved in the summer, he would have had to wait until January to play for Atletico due to their transfer/registration ban, but at least he could train with the club. As it stands, he is not training with anyone and instead has been across the ocean. The Spanish club is likely hoping he will stay match fit prior to any transfer in January, although that would risk injury and a potential Chelsea return.

Nevertheless, with Costa not on the Blues roster, he is unable to play for Chelsea in the European competition, meaning he won’t be cap-tied should a transfer materialize over the winter and Atletico Madrid remain in the competition that long.

On the flip side, Zlatan Ibrahimovic was included on Manchester United’s Champions League roster despite still recovering from his ACL tear back in April. He wasn’t expected back until January, but this could signal an earlier return, since teams are able to make roster changes after the group stage, and Mourinho therefore could have omitted the Swede from his group stage roster with plans to add him after returning.

Will Mourinho find time for three strikers?

Getty Images
1 Comment

Last season, Manchester United struggled to score goals due to a lack of finishers, with a 12% chance conversion rate last season, by far the lowest percentage of the Premier League top 6.

Now, Mourinho suddenly has to find room for three quality strikers.

With Zlatan Ibrahimovic‘s stunningly quick recovery from a torn ACL, Manchester United has now added the 35-year-old to the duo of Romelu Lukaku and Marcus Rashford.

[ MORE: Preview for Manchester United vs. Leicester City ]

Many now see Rashford as the odd-man out. Will Mourinho be able to fit the English international into the rotation to keep his development from suffering? Certainly Mourinho will need to give Zlatan time, for the eccentric Swede won’t take kindly to sitting on the bench as a traditional backup. Meanwhile, the expensive Lukaku was brought in to lead the charge.

So how will Mourinho negotiate the congestion? Manchester United was blessed with a cushy Champions League group, so it’s likely they will have European play to navigate well into the season. In addition, the domestic cups provide more chances to get players on the field. Nevertheless, playing Burton Albion and Basel won’t go a long way towards keeping Rashford or Ibrahimovic in good spirits.

One of the most difficult jobs of a soccer manager – or a coach in any sport, for that matter – is finding high-quality backups but also ones that will accept the limited playing time that comes with being second-fiddle. Now, Mourinho must figure out a way to keep the two big names happy while also not stunting Rashford’s growth. Developing talent isn’t exactly the United boss’s forté, so it will be a season-long storyline how he decides to split time between the three.

Ibrahimovic move drastically improves Man United’s 17/18 aspirations

Dan Mullan/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Once the rumors of Zlatan Ibrahimovic coming to MLS were all but dead, it almost became a certainty that the former Sweden international would re-join the Manchester side where he spent the 2016/17 season.

[ MORE: Week 3 — Prince-Wright’s Premier League picks ]

That became a reality on Thursday when Manchester United announced the big move to reacquire Ibrahimovic, who is currently rehabilitating his knee following last season’s devastating injury that ruled him out for the final month of the domestic and Europa League campaigns.

[ MORE: Saints, Newcastle knocked out in League Cup action ]

Since April though, United has made some significant upgrades, particularly at the striker position.

That’s not to say that Ibra is anything shy of a marvel when healthy, but by adding a 24-year-old Romelu Lukaku into the fold, manager Jose Mourinho and the Red Devils now have serious firepower up top.

There is no timetable as to when the 35-year-old will return to the pitch, but with Ibrahimovic likely ruled out until at least January, United has itself in a very strong position to not only cope with its domestic competition but also help aspire to reaching Champions League glory come the latter half of the season.

Last season, Lukaku and Ibrahimovic scored a combined 42 goals in the Premier League during the 16/17 season. Only Harry Kane and Dele Alli of Tottenham combined for more goals during that span (47).

Although it may be difficult to get both players on the pitch at the same time given United’s designed attack and Lukaku and Ibra’s style of play, Mourinho has at his disposal the ability to rotate the two talents.

That simply isn’t something most other clubs have the luxury of doing, especially when it comes down to balancing the PL, FA Cup, Champions League and other competitions over the second-half of the season.

Another benefit for United is that Zlatan is already very familiar with the system implemented by the Portuguese boss, and it’s one where he thrived in a season ago.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic officially re-joins Manchester United

Stu Forster/Getty Images
Leave a comment

It had been rumored for some time that a possible return to Old Trafford could be in the works, but now it’s official.

[ MORE: Premier League TV, stream schedule for Week 3 ]

Zlatan Ibrahimovic will be back for a second season with Manchester United, the club announced on Thursday.

The veteran Swedish strike re-joins the Red Devils on a one-year contract after having previously signed a similar deal last summer.

Ibrahimovic scored 28 goals in all competitions under Jose Mourinho, before having his season cut short with a serious knee injury this April. The 35-year-old missed the end of last season, which included United’s UEFA Europa League title.