By Alex Baker
LOS ANGELES, Calif. Jose Mourinho was confirmed as manager of Manchester United on Friday and according to reports, one of the Portuguese tactician’s first moves could involve signing Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Mourinho is taking over the job at Old Trafford following the sacking of Louis van Gaal earlier this week. And while Ibrahimovic had previously implied that Van Gaal remaining in charge could present an obstacle to him signing with the Red Devils, the Swedish striker is thought to enjoy a good relationship with Mourinho from the one season they spent together at Internazionale.
While Van Gaal had relied on younger players like Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford for goals, Mourinho typically prefers to build his teams around more experienced, top-level players. Ibrahimovic – who has won titles in Holland, Italy, France, and Spain – fits the bill in terms of an A-list striker.
Ibrahimovic – an Inter Milan player from 2006 to 2009 – spent his final season at the Italian club playing under Mourinho. With 25 goals, Ibrahimovic was the club’s leading scorer that season as Mourinho guided Inter to the Serie A title and the Supercoppa Italiana.
Despite spending just a single season together, the two are said to enjoy a close relationship.
“I had a fantastic time with him at Inter and we said when I left that we might work together again,” said Ibrahimovic speaking at a press conference ahead of Sweden’s build-up to Euro 2016. “I have spoken to Mourinho every day since I left Inter. We talk a lot.”
Despite being at an advanced stage in his career, Ibrahimovic’s salary demands – somewhere in the region of £250,000 a week – remain substantial to say the least. But the fact that the Swede is available on a free transfer could help soften that blow.
At 34, Ibrahimovic is perhaps not quite the player he once was. But with United having failed to qualify for next season’s Champions League, it may prove difficult to attract a truly elite tier striker in his prime. And with the Premier League being the only major European league Ibrahimovic has yet to conquer, the player and the club could prove an ideal fit for one another.
Photos courtesy of ISI and Kieran McManus.