Jose Mourinho Hints Zlatan Ibrahimovic Will Not Be First Choice at Man Utd Upon Return From Injury
Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho has warned Zlatan Ibrahimovic that it's unlikely he will remain first choice striker for the club when he returns from injury, according to Mail Online.
The Swedish star - who hit 28 goals for United in his debut season last year - rejoined the club on Thursday after a summer of speculation over his next move. Ibrahimovic picked up a knee ligament injury in his final appearance for the club last season, and is not expected back until November at the very earliest.
Mourinho admitted on Friday that by the time the then-36-year-old will be ready to return, United's first team is likely to be settled and playing a certain way; making it difficult for him to take a spot from the likes of new signing Romelu Lukaku or playmaker Henrikh Mkhitaryan.
He said: "Zlatan knows me. And he knows that I play the players that I think are the best for the team.
"If he comes here and he proves that he is the best, he plays. If the other ones don’t give him a chance to prove that, that’s life. I always try to be honest with my players. Maybe sometimes I don’t do the correct things. But I always try.
"Zlatan is going to arrive into a made team, mid-season with the team playing in a certain way and with players having what I call the functional links in the dynamic of the team. We are going to be a better squad. He is one more option, one more player that can play (as a) No 9 or 10.
"Probably, in January, I would have been knocking on Ed Woodward’s door asking for a striker and (now) I don’t need to. I have one of the best in the world."
Ibrahimovic will however be included in United's Champions League squad, as Mourinho has confirmed, but the manager has also admitted his side have a much tougher group than many people expect - given they face Benfica, FC Basel and CSKA Moscow.
Mourinho added: "He will not be ready for the group phase of the Champions League, I don't think there is any chance of that but we do have space in the list to have him. So we don't need to leave any player outside of the list but I'm not thinking Zlatan will play any part of the group phase.
"He will be an extra man for us in the second part of the season. When I say the second part I say normally we say January after Christmas. Let him do his work step by step and comeback when he's ready.
"A club like United, in my opinion, has to show how big it is in the details. This is a big detail. A player who gets injured in a United shirt, fighting for United, the club has to be there for him.
"It would have been very easy for him to say goodbye, that'd enough. Won the cup, big injury, goodbye. He doesn't want to do that, he wants to follow his other dreams and play at the highest level.
"We’re in this group, like the Porto group, where everyone can win or lose. We are going to share points. You’re not going to see four or five-nil like in others, or 14 points and zero points. It’s a dangerous group.
"If you go to the recent history, United lost against Basel and couldn’t beat Benfica."