Ibra can't wait to get going at United

To the mercurial Zlatan, it's already a done deal as the Swedish forward is expected to join United from PSG in the next few days.
To the mercurial Zlatan, it's already a done deal as the Swedish forward is expected to join United from PSG in the next few days. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Brash forward will provide more attacking options as well as help mentor Rashford

LONDON • In his own inimitable style, Zlatan Ibrahimovic used social media on Thursday to confirm that he will be joining Manchester United - even before he had had a medical check-up and before the move had been officially confirmed by his new club.

Barring an unexpected last-minute hitch, he will complete his free transfer from Paris Saint-Germain in the coming days and become one of the Premier League's highest-paid players, having agreed a one-year contract that will earn him in excess of £200,000 (S$358,000) a week.

As English football prepares to welcome one of the game's stars, what will the 34-year-old forward's arrival mean for United, their players and their rivals?

WILL ROONEY'S MOVE WORK?

Manager Jose Mourinho can now choose between Ibrahimovic, Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial. Which means, as with England, neither Wayne Rooney's seniority nor his experience will guarantee him a place in attack for United.

Rooney will have to drop deeper if he wants to play regularly. Even that, though, will not make the 30-year-old an automatic choice, particularly if United sign Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Paul Pogba.

A MENTOR FOR RASHFORD

Sources at Old Trafford have indicated that one of the prime reasons that Ibrahimovic has been signed, rather than a forward in his prime, is to provide Rashford with a mentor and keep the path to the first team clear in the long term.

In that respect, Ibrahimovic is a short-term option who United hope will have a long-term effect on the young strikers he will work with.

MOURINHO'S TEAM PLANNING

This move reunites two of the biggest egos in world football, a pair who worked well together at Inter Milan. Mourinho will have an immediate ally and a player who understands his style.

The complicated football that United played under Louis van Gaal will be replaced by a more direct style, with Ibrahimovic using his technical ability to hold up play and bring in attackers and midfield runners.

TRANSFER AMBITION

United have struggled to attract superstars in recent seasons, so signing Ibrahimovic, even in the latter stages of his career, represents a significant coup.

Having snared Mourinho, United are willing to put together a squad of proven quality in keeping with their manager's vision.

A deal for Mkhitaryan, the Borussia Dortmund midfielder, is imminent - shirts with his name were on sale on the club's website on Thursday.

United are also stepping up their efforts to sign Pogba from Juventus, with the French midfielder likely to cost around £65 million.

PEP HAS ANOTHER UNITED ENEMY

As if it was not bad enough having Mourinho, his arch enemy, join him on the Manchester beat, Pep Guardiola will now have to come to terms with one of his most fiercest critics sharing the same town.

To say Manchester City's new manager does not see eye to eye with Ibrahimovic would be a major understatement.

Having been sold to Inter by Guardiola following a brief but turbulent spell at Barcelona, the Swede has borne a grudge since.

In his book, I Am Zlatan, he accused his adversary of being "a spineless coward".

THE TIMES, LONDON

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 02, 2016, with the headline 'Ibra can't wait to get going at United'. Print Edition | Subscribe