Zlatan is Red: Can He Enkindle the Premier League?


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Manchester United has completed the signing of prolific striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic on a one-year deal.

The big name footballer and former Sweden international was practically the main focus of all the speculation in the transfer market as he was yet to decide on his next club up until Thursday when he posted a picture of Manchester United’s emblem with the caption I am coming.

It’s fair to say that Manchester United didn’t do much to keep the transfer a secret as the news of Zlatan’s arrival had already gone viral weeks before Zlatan officially confirmed where he’s heading next via his social media account.

The 34-year-old soccer sensation who represented his country 116 times was a free agent after leaving French champions Paris St-Germain. He will arrive in the UK on Friday after some captivating European football for over a decade to complete his medical and other formalities.

Ibrahimovic, famous for referring to himself in egotistic terms had earlier said that he is considering various options for next season, including a return to Italy but it seems like that the attraction of a reunion with former boss Jose Mourinho was too strong to resist.

He is all set to become José Mourinho’s second signing for United, following the arrival of Eric Bailly from Villarreal.

Career Snapshot

The legendary Ibrahimovic started his footballing career with hometown club Malmo FF in 1999 and went on to represent some Europe’s Elite clubs including Ajax, Juventus, Inter Milan, Barcelona, AC Milan and PSG.

During his illustrious career that spans over 18 years, Ibra has scored 392 goals in 677 games with his last season in Paris being the most phenomenal of them all as he bagged a record 50 goals in 51 games for PSG.

Ibra has enjoyed a trophy-laden career thus far as he’s won silverware every season since 2001, including 13 league titles. To be more precise, Ibrahimovic has 28 major accolades under his belt excluding the pair of Serie A titles reversed at Juventus due to the Calcio Poli scandal.

Wages Justified?

Although the exact financial details of this high profile deal have not been fully revealed, United have reportedly agreed on £225,000-per-week to the former PSG striker. Initially, he will sign a one-year contract with a possible one-year extension.

Judging by Manchester United’s desire to have a consistent goal scorer within their ranks, it’s hard to disagree that Zlatan is worth this wage.

The Commercial Value

Rob Wilson, the Football finance expert of Sheffield Hallam University, believes that because of his global profile, fanbase, and personality, Ibrahimovic would be United’s most marketable asset since Cristiano Ronaldo.

Ibrahimovic’s shirt sales are also expected to surpass the £50m mark which would be enough to cover the cost of missing out on the Champions League, Europe’s elite competition.

“Zlatan has a global profile and global appeal,” Wilson said. “Fans will buy shirts with Ibrahimovic on the back in Africa, South East Asia – markets United had a foothold in but not the leverage.
“Only a few select few players can do that: Gareth Bale, Neymar, Lionel Messi and Ronaldo.”

What does Zlatan bring to Manchester United?

The imminent arrival of Ibrahimovic sounds perfect for Manchester United and offers a significant boost to their hopes of a return to glory in the domestic top-flight as well as in the Champions League. When it comes to winning silverware, only a few players have achieved more accolades than Zlatan in the last 15 years and on that note, Ed Woodward and Co will be hoping that Zlatan can continue his prolificacy in the Premier League.

How does this impact the squad?

With the arrival of Zlatan, the United lineup is bound to undergo some certain changes in the coming season as his presence will most likely mean that the likes of Memphis Depay and Martial will be deployed in the flanks.

Alternatively, he may partner with Martial up front if Mourinho decides to play two strikers but in either case, Wayne Rooney will move into a deeper position, possibly the number 10 role in a bid to provide Ibrahimovic with the service he needs to bag a plethora of goals for United.

It’s fair to say that Zlatan isn’t as mobile on the pitch as he was a couple of years ago. Hence he’s going to have to rely on the services of the United midfield to score most of his goals.

Zlatan’s ageing feet has forced him to evolve into somewhat of a more complete forward, but while that’s a good thing, it can also have its disadvantages.

It’s quite likely that Zlatan will be over reliant on his teammates as he can’t drop deep very often to create his own chances.

The Euros highlighted his shortcomings as he was unable to bag a single goal in the midst of relatively average players, which just goes to show that he needs quality players around him to bring out his best qualities up front.

But even on that note, Manchester United have the sort of players that can provide Ibra with the quality passes and crosses he needs to hit the back of the net on a consistent basis.

Apart from the obvious tactical changes United is set to undergo due to Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s arrival, Ibrahimović’s presence in the squad will also help the United players to restore the confidence and swagger that was non-existent in the post-Ferguson era.

When Fans Can See Him in Action

There is a tremendous possibility that United fans could see Ibrahimovic in action before the start of the new season.

Manchester United plays Borussia Dortmund in Shanghai on July 22 followed by a fixture against Manchester City in Beijing three days after the BVB game. They will also face Turkish club Galatasaray in Gothenburg on July 30.

Azhar Nadeem
Azhar Nadeem
Ordinary person, Humble Soul, Wordsmith, love to hear solid arguments, Daring to express diff. of opinion, Islam, Pakistan and @PakistanTribune are my passion


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