One of the biggest moves of the summer transfer window has been superstar Zlatan Ibrahimovic leaving PSG and reuniting with Jose Mourinho in Manchester United. While plenty of fans worldwide are desperately waiting to see Zlatan make his debut in the EPL and bring back United’s glory days, I am not one of those fan. As great a player as Zlatan is, he is not the solution for United’s problems, nor will “The Chosen One” be the long-term solution for the opening left by Sir Alex Ferguson.
First of all, I hate to be bearer of bad news, but Ibrahimovic will turn 35 in October. I know it may seem like he’s just like wine and gets better over time, but realistically speaking, how much longer does he have at an elite level? A striker begins to decline around age 32-33, which means Zlatan has his glory days limited. I know 53 goals during last season proves otherwise, but will he able to perform at the same level in such a demanding league? A league which consists of speed and counterattacks will be a tough transition for Ibra, who appears to have been half-gassing these past few years and still dominating in France. We’ve seen plenty of players in the past struggle to adapt to the physicality and speed of the EPL. Players like Ángel Di Maria and Memphis Depay both had a hard time adjusting in the league. Two players with amazing speed, let alone a much slower Ibrahimovic.
Looking at the bench, we see the famous Jose Mourinho, who has enjoyed both successful and bitter spells at Chelsea. Although his tactics are sometimes questioned, it is evident that Mourinho knows a thing or two about winning, but at what cost? He’s notorious for causing mayhem inside the locker rooms, especially at Real Madrid when he benched captain and icon Iker Casillas for Diego Lopez.
The portuguese is also known for neglecting his academy players. In most times, he prefers to test the transfer market instead of giving opportunities to his younger players. In reality, what Manchester United needs is the complete opposite. The club has one of the best academies in the world, producing plenty of star players both in the present and in the past. Their latest gem is striker Marcus Rashford, who, in a year, has scored against Man City and even debuted for England. The question is: will Mourinho allow academy players to continue their growth, or will he look to spend money instead?
Lastly, Ibrahimovic’s playing style is very similar to Wayne Rooney’s new found role as a creator. Both players are capable of playing with their backs against the goal and being the target man up front. The difference between their styles is that Zlatan is more capable of scoring. I’m curious to see what formation Mourinho will use. Unless Rooney moves to a midfield role, he might have to play a 4-4-2 with both Rooney and Zlatan up top, a duo that would be two of the same players and would lack speed up top. Both players check in demanding the ball, and no one would stretch the defense out with sprints behind the lines. Along with that, the addition of the Swedish would take the minutes away from any young forward that could be looking to get minutes.
I understand that Manchester United have been far from their historic greatness in the last couple of years and are desperately trying to find the pieces of the puzzle to get back in rhythm. Even though I’m a huge Ibrahimovic fan, I must admit it was the wrong choice. Let’s hope Zlatan has one more year in his tank and Mourinho can bring them a title, ugly or not. For the future of the team, Ibrahimovic and Mourinho were not the way to go.