“Zlatan Ibrahimovic, he is a Swedish hero,
On a free from PSG he cost us f*cking zero.
Six foot five, hard as f*ck, he gets the Reds excited,
Stick your City up your a**,
‘Cause we are Man United.”
Zlatan Ibrahimovic. A man who needs no introduction. The swedish hero arrived at Old Trafford in the summer transfer window on a free transfer from French giants PSG with newly appointed Jose Mourinho playing a key part in landing him.
The 35-year old made an immediate impact, scoring 5 goals in 5 games, with his first coming on his debut against Premier League champions Leicester City in the Community Shield at Wembley.
However, during a spell in which United were struggling to find consistency in their form, Zlatan only managed 1 goal in 11 games (all comps) despite having several half and clear cut chances.
The striker inevitably came under harsh criticism from fans and the media alike, with both claiming that he isn’t the player he once was. Unfazed by these criticisms, Zlatan responded in style by scoring a brace against Swansea at the Liberty stadium, at the beginning of November, in a team that was shaken up by Mourinho and featured a somewhat bizarre starting line-up.
The drastic change in personnel AND formation, clearly worked because not only did the big man bag a brace, but United also ended a short winless run in the Premier League.
In what is perhaps a response to Zlatan’s brace against Swansea, Jose Mourinho has stated that United will extend Ibrahimovic’s contract for another year (until the end of the 2017/18 season). It is alleged that there was already a clause in his contract stating that if he met ‘certain targets’, a contract extension would automatically be awarded.
This came as quite a surprise to me considering he is not even mid-way through his first year. My first question when hearing this news was, ‘What about Rashford?’
My assumption, when we signed Zlatan on a one year deal, was that one year would be it. Zlatan would then hand over the goal scoring responsibility to the young, fearless, tenacious Marcus Rashford, and then move to the states to conquer MLS.
Now don’t get me wrong, I love having Zlatan at United. He is important for United in many ways, not just for his goals. But Rashford cannot spend another season being forced to play out on the left wing. He’s not a winger. He has proved that many times this season.
Assume that United will bring in another world class forward next summer (Griezmann a possibility) to add to the likes of Rooney, Mkhitaryan, Mata, Valencia and Martial – it’s likely that they will; if Zlatan was to stay for an extra year, it could mean Rashford may struggle for regular game time; both on the wing AND as a number 9.
Now consider another scenario: Zlatan finishes at the end of this season and Rashford takes the number 9 shirt. Mourinho affords Rashford the opportunity to make the number 9 position his own, with a choice of Mata, Martial, Mkhitaryan, Rooney, Griezmann (or any other world class forward), Valencia, Pogba and Herrera behind him. It makes you think, doesn’t it?
Despite a rather convincing argument above for Zlatan to leave at the end of his initial first year, there is a niggling part of me that continues to the ask the question, ‘What if?’
What if Rashford is afforded the opportunity but fails. What if he is still too young? still too inexperienced? What if a few games without a goal detrimentally damages his confidence and he struggles to recover from it? Will I wish we kept Zlatan for another year? Probably.
I was and very much still am on the fence with this one, so I turned to Twitter to see what you all thought about it. The result was interesting with almost half of you (who voted) preferring Zlatan to leave at the end of his first year.
Should United extend Zlatan Ibrahimovic's contract for another season? Or afford Rashford the opportunity to make the 9 spot his own?
— Paul Gardiner (@PaulGardinerLP) November 24, 2016
And here is what some of you had to say:
@PaulGardinerLP Nah free some wages up from Zlatan and let him chip off to Murica
— Keith B (@KeithBinding) November 24, 2016
@PaulGardinerLP Rashford on his own won't deliver still needs someone to mentor him at least till he turns 22.
— San†a-cяuz #MUFC. (@PhalaKg) November 24, 2016
— AJ (@AJFranklyn) November 24, 2016
— El Mágico (@DeGea_Saves) November 24, 2016
Even after reading some of your tweets providing arguments for and against Zlatan staying, I still couldn’t make my mind up on how I feel about it. So I’ll see how the season goes and make my mind up later.
In the meantime, if you didn’t vote in the Twitter poll, vote below or comment below and let me know what you think about the prospect of Zlatan staying for another year.