Neil Custis says the striker’s comeback from a knee injury does more than just increase Utd’s awesome attacking options
AS if Manchester United are not looking strong enough already — Zlatan Ibrahimovic will return to the ranks this month.
Imagine defending a corner when the Swede joins Romelu Lukaku and Paul Pogba in the box.
lIbra’s rehabilitation from the cruciate knee-ligament injury suffered in April is almost complete and he has been persuaded to sign on at Old Trafford for another year.
While the striker will not get the starts he did last season now that Lukaku has been brought in for £75million, he is still some player for Jose Mourinho to have back in his arsenal.
Last season, he was United’s top scorer with 28 goals — including two in the 3-2 League Cup final victory over Southampton.
His thumping header to win that game with United on the ropes was pure Zlatan and he was overcome with emotion at the end.
The 35-year-old is now back and determined to prove any lingering doubters wrong.
While it is unlikely he will start alongside Lukaku, it is a mouth-watering prospect were Mourinho to play a 3-5-2 formation.
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After all, the United manager did so in pre-season and suggested that using Lukaku and Marcus Rashford could work in that formation.
Mourinho has used 4-2-3-1 in his opening two games — a pair of 4-0 wins over West Ham and Swansea — with Lukaku up front and Rashford wide.
But Ibra offers another alternative — certainly a good one — coming off the bench and an option when Lukaku needs a rest.
With Mourinho aiming for a League and FA Cup Double and back in the Champions League, he will not be able to rely on the former Everton striker alone.
It is not just Ibra’s ability that bolsters the United ranks, but the character and influence he brings to the squad.
Sir Alex Ferguson’s teams were always full of characters, but they have all gone.
Ibra, Lukaku and Pogba all have the sort of big presence that has been missing.
Eric Bailly has come out of his shell and Ander Herrera is stepping forward as a real leader, as well.
Rashford, is still only 19 but no longer a shy teenager in a new world. He is a player who has literally grown into his role at United.
Zlatan remains a towering presence among all these players. The Lion is back and ready to roar.
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