So, what is next for Zlatan Ibrahimovic ?
The Swede is sweating on a new contract with Manchester United after damaging his anterior cruciate ligament, ruling him out until the back end of the year.
Ibrahimovic has undergone surgery and is currently in the process of recovering in Miami, where he is receiving specialist treatment.
It is still expected to be six months before the mercurial striker is seen on the pitch again, meaning United have a big decision to make on his future.
He demands huge wages and with no assurances over his fitness, United might choose to invest elsewhere and let Ibrahimovic go.
One thing is for sure: Ibrahimovic will receive an offer from somewhere if he decides to prolong his career.
But where are the options for him?
Mirror Football have run the rule over all the possibilities…
Despite a lack of commitment from both Ibrahimovic and his agent prior to picking up his injury, a second season at United remains possible.
The striker emerged as the focal point both on and off the pitch, has a terrific relationship with Mourinho and a number of the club’s younger players, including Marcus Rashford and Paul Pogba.
His children, according to Ibrahimovic, were the driving force behind his move: “My two kids wanted to see me play at United. I had my mind somewhere else.”
However he has found himself idolised following his impact in Manchester, comparisons to Eric Cantona plentiful in recent days. With Champions League football and an improved side next season, United will be able to offer everything he wants – assuming they beat his former club, Ajax, in the Europa league final.
The striker is unlikely to see action until December at the earliest, but to have him as an option in the second half of next season could be massive for Mourinho, as he eyes a title tilt in his second season at Old Trafford.
The Italian giants saved Ibrahimovic from his Pep Guardiola hell, and the Swede scored 56 goals in 85 games for the Rossoneri during his two years at San Siro – finishing as the league’s top scorer in his second campaign.
But as Milan made cutbacks, Silvio Berlusconi reached an agreement with Paris Saint-Germain to sell the Swede for €20million and Ibrahimovic move to France in a move that he has since stated “wasn’t my choice”.
“I never wanted to leave. I love Milan and in my view it’s the biggest club I ever played for.”
When fit, new Chinese owners – Sino-Europe Sports (SES) – could offer a return route. They’ve promised to spend big this summer in a bid to challenge for the Scudetto once more, and Ibrahimovic could be the perfect figure head, even if fans would have to wait for him to step back onto the pitch.
Major League Soccer
Ibrahimovic has offers on the table from MLS, with the biggest and most likely destination Los Angeles, with LA Galaxy.
They have experienced plenty of change recently, with a new coach and the departures of both Steven Gerrard and Robbie Keane.
That’s left Giovani dos Santos and Romain Alessandrini as the club’s post boys, but with the expansion side Los Angeles FC gaining traction ahead of their entrance into the league in 2018, Galaxy know they need to bite back.
Giovani’s Mexican teammate Javier Hernandez is the No.1 choice, particularly with California’s big Latin community. But Ibrahimovic would offer the kind of ‘wow’ factor that would really stamp their mark.
However, LAFC could be an option also. They need a big name ahead of their entrance next March, and joining them would allow Zlatan to ease himself back to fitness – before opening a new chapter.
Chinese Super League
Like America, Ibrahimovic is a box-office attraction for the Chinese Super League, a marquee name who would offer the league real credence.
Ibrahimovic would stand to double his current salary should he elect to move to the Far East. Tianjin Quanjian have already expressed their desire to land a big-name striker in the summer and are managed by Ibrahimovic’s former teammate Fabio Cannavaro.
Another side with a foreign player slot open, Jiangsu Suning, have heavy financial backing from the company who also back Zlatan’s former club, Internazionale.
A move to the CSL seems unlikely – given Ibrahimovic’s desire to remain at the top and the potential effects of uprooting his family – but shouldn’t be ruled out.
The first club of his career, why not the last.
Ibrahimovic’s home town side, he still has childhood friends in the city and is regaled as something of a modern day hero, particularly amongst the city’s ethnic community.
He scored 18 goals in 47 games as a teenager for the club, when they were flitting between the first and second tiers. They’ve since moved into the Swedbank Stadion and are reigning Swedish champions.
He would be a returning hero. But dropping to a considerably weaker league and the huge contrast in his current salary and their budget make a homecoming extremely unlikely; unless it’s what Zlatan wants of course.
Will Zlatan be at United next season?
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