Written by Alex Baker
The ‘paper war’ between Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Louis van Gaal raged on this week, with the Paris Saint-Germain striker saying he would only consider joining Manchester United if a different manager was in charge.
According to a report from Sky Sports, Ibrahimovic likes the idea of joining the 20-time English champions, but has no desire to work with the Dutch manager.
The two reportedly have beef with one another, dating back to the days when Ibrahimovic was playing for Ajax and van Gaal was technical director at the Dutch club.
Despite this, Ibrahimovic is still thought to be keen on moving to England, believing that the Premier League could provide him with a platform to perform at a high level for another couple of seasons before accepting a big-money move to China.
However, there are a number of reasons a move to Old Trafford seems unlikely for Zlatan as long as van Gaal remains in charge.
Last week the under-fire manager gave an interview to Swedish television in which he implied that the 34-year-old Ibrahimovic was too old for Manchester United.
“When I took over we had six or seven players above 33 years old. Nobody knows that anymore because they are gone,” said van Gaal.
“[Ibrahimovic] is already 34 and I just spoke about the age [of the players] I let go.”
And this week, Ibrahimovic – who is out of contract with PSG at the end of the season – did little to strengthen the argument that he’s ready to take on the Premier League’s best, after a pair of ineffectual performances from the Swede saw his PSG side eliminated from the Champions League by Manchester City.
However, Manchester United are just one of a number of Premier League sides that are rumored to be interested in signing the former Ajax, Barcelona and AC Milan striker. West Ham United, Arsenal, and Chelsea have also been linked with the striker.
Ibrahimovic and van Gaal taking pot shots at one another in the press has opened the debate up about which would be better for United – an admittedly aging striker who’s still managed to score 42 goals in all competitions this season, or an under-fire manager whose time in charge at Old Trafford has largely been viewed as a disappointment?
If Manchester United are serious about returning to the top of English and European football, a shakeup could be in order. Cutting bait with van Gaal to bring in Ibrahimovic would be a serious statement of intent from the club’s hierarchy.
(Photo by Kieran McManus)