Zlatan is holding Manchester United back
Manchester United’s decision to bring in Zlatan Ibrahimovic this summer seemed to be a match made in heaven. Zlatan came to Old Trafford to elevate the club just as Jose Mourinho was searching for a veteran to galvanize his attack. Unfortunately, the only way Zlatan can elevate United at this juncture, is to leave this summer.
It doesn’t seem that the prolific striker sees that obvious truth though. Instead, he’s insistent that United spend more this summer in an effort to match his level of ambition. He correctly asserts that he doesn’t have much time left in his football career. As such, it’s perfectly understandable that he wants to be on a title contending side immediately.
The problem is that United aren’t set up to be that sort of side. They need to begin to take a longer view of their roster. Time and space must be given to youngsters like Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial to allow them to grow and develop. That might cost Mourinho points next season,m but it’ll benefit United in the long run.
Simply put, Zlatan’s presence on the roster takes away valuable playing time from players who could be part of the club’s future. That isn’t a shot at his current ability. I believe he’s an above average Premier League striker at the moment.
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However, his performances are only going to get worse as time goes on. His lack of mobility at the front of the United attack already causes the club problems. It’s not as if he’s going to regain pace as his age creeps nearer and nearer to 40.
Zlatan can only rely on his skill and guile for so long. The clock is ticking on his career. That’s why United need to accelerate his departure. His career arc doesn’t fit their timeline. Mourinho might not want to admit how far away his squad is from competing for a Premier League title, but it’s quite obvious to the rest of the Premier League.
Sure, United might be able to coax another star or two to join their squad this summer. Adding a player like Antoine Griezmann could help them ascend up the Premier League table. Even his arrival would make Zlatan’s presence at the club more problematic. The two stars happen to play the same position. Unfortunately for the Swedish star, his French counterpart plays it much better.
Signing Zlatan Ibrahimovic was a worthwhile gamble last summer for Manchester United and Jose Mourinho. This summer, the right gamble for the club will be letting him walk away for nothing.