When Zlatan Ibrahimovic arrived at Manchester United last summer, many had already written him off as ‘past it’. But the 35-year-old has proved his doubters wrong in spectacular fashion, netting 26 times in 38 games.
But that stat alone isn’t the only reason keeping hold of the Swede needs to be Jose Mourinho’s first priority this summer.
Simply put, Ibra is a big game player. Having previously netted both home and away against Liverpool and scored in a Manchester derby, he’s now grabbed a brace in an EFL Cup Final at Wembley, including an 87th-minute winner.
But as much as that, the Swede is a talisman in the mould of Red Devils legends like Bryan Robson or Eric Cantona. And following a period in which the club have lacked a leader on the field, his tireless, determined displays have revitalised the whole side.
And while his finishing has been nothing short of sensational, there’s an argument that it’s overshadowed his qualities as a team player. Despite a reputation for ego, the Swede has an outstanding overall addition up United, chalking up eight assists so far this term, and created an impressive 43 chances in the league alone.
So, it’s clear United have to keep him. And fans of the 20-time English champions will be pleased to hear that our odds-compilers make it just a 1/3 shot he begins next season at Old Trafford.
Meanwhile, there’s 1/2 on offer for the veteran to reach 35 goals this season – a feat which would make him the first United player to reach that total since Cristiano Ronaldo in 2007-08.
And our traders reckon he’ll be far from a one-season wonder. There’s 1/2 on offer for Ibra to manage 20+ goals in red and white next season, while 3/1 says he hits the 20 mark in the Premier League alone.
However, the most popular bet could be on the former Paris Saint-Germain ace scoring in either the FA Cup Final or Europa League Final this season (7/2), having netted twice at Wembley on Sunday, as well as grabbing a brace in last season’s Coupe De France final as PSG beat Marseille 4-2.
Having lifted a major honour with the North-West giants at the first time of asking, and already secured status as a terrace hero at Old Trafford, there’s no doubt fans of Mourinho’s side are desperate for him to stay. If he does, it could be just the lift the club need in the quest to return to their former glories.
Ladbrokes Latest Betting:
Zlatan Ibrahimovic specials
To start next season at Man United – 1/3
To reach 35 goals this season – 1/2
To score 20+ goals in all competitions for Man United in 2017/18 season – 1/2
To reach 40 goals this season – 5/2
To score 20+ Premier League goals for Man United in 2017/18 season – 3/1
To score in either FA Cup Final or Europa League Final 2016/17 – 7/2
To score in BOTH FA Cup Final and Europa League Final – 40/1
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing