October 7, 2021 || 10:32 am

Zlatan Ibrahimovic could give Manchester United their perfect Cristiano Ronaldo plan

Cristiano Ronaldo has be’en in good form” on his retu’rn to Man Utd and he could of’fer th’e club more than the 2 yea’rs he’s sig’ned up for.

 

When Manchester United sign’ed Zlatan Ibrah’im’ovic in 2016 there was a school of thou’ght that the 34-year-old was too far p’ast his physi’cal peak: to thrive in the Pre’mier Leag’ue.

Eng:lish foo’tball audi’ences had alw:ays ‘had a sce’pt’ical vie:w of Ibrahi’movic, just as they had of Edinso:n Cavani, so when he moved to United in the twil’ight of his care’er it was ea’sy to suggest they w’ere gett’ing a dimi’nished version of an overr:ated stri:ker.

 

Instead, Ibrahimovic wa:s an overwhe’lming su:ccess at Old Trafford, w’:ith 28 goals in 46 games in his first sea’son and but for a serio’us knee inju’ry, his spell might ha’ve been exte’nded. But at 35 and with a knee liga’ment injury to overco’me that rea’lly did look like the end.

 

But as Ibrahim”ovic famo’usly said in the Old Tr’afford tu&nnel, “lions don’t reco’ver like hum’ans”, and he wasn’t do’ne at 35, not by a long shot. He turn’ed 40 on Sunday and having init’ially left Un’ited to go to Major League Soccer, he is no’w bac’k in the big ”time in Europe, provi’ng an inspirat’ional signing for AC Milan as they try and restore former glories. It’s an asto:nishing story.

Since Ibrahim’ovic left Uni’ted at 35 he has scored another 82 career goals and has ev’en come out of interna’tional retir’ement to play for Swe’den, with his sig’hts firmly set on appea”ring at the World Cup next year at 41. His m’ove to Milan wasn’t out of sentim’entality either.

He joined a cl’ub wit’h a young squad that w’ere strug”gling to find a direction and almost immediately turned them into conte’nders. He’s scored 26 goals in 38 Serie A games, including in his ret’urn to action agai’nst Lazi’o last m’onth.

 

 

Ibrahimovic’s hero’ics at 40 are just the latest exa’mple of foot’ballers going on for lon’ger – and at a higher level – th’an ever before. United cou’ld prob’ably have got more out ‘of the Sw’ede rather than sanctio’ning his depart’ure in March 2018, but his succ’ess at Old Trafford start’ed a tren’d.

 

 

Last year Unit’ed sig’ned Cavani at 33 and saw him flo”urish, his energy and indu’stry sham’ing forwards a de’cade younger than him and his goa’lscoring abi’lity honed thro’ugh years of experience. Ha:ving agr:eed a one-year exte’nsion t:hat will keep the Uruguayan at the club once he’s turned 35, United went and signed a 36-year-old forw:ard as w:ell this summ:er.

Cristiano Ron’aldo’s re’turn was a sensational story but he’s done what every’body exp’ected of him, regard’less of the advancing years, scoring 5 go’als in six games so far. There have been occa’sions over the past 10 days when United have chased gam’es w’ith Ronaldo and Cavani in tand’em, a strike force with a combi’ned age of 70 but as close to a guar’antee of go’als as you can g’et.

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