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Zlatan to Manchester United: Good idea or bad idea?

Reports across Europe suggest Zlatan Ibrahimovic is on his way to Manchester United and will be one of the first signings made by incoming manager Jose Mourinho. So this is the conversation SBS Sport Executive Producer Stuart Randall and TWG football journalist Nick Stoll had on whether the move makes sense for the 20-time league champions.

Zlatan

Source: AAP

NICK: So according to reports in Paris, England, Holland and Italy, Ibrahimovic is heading to Manchester United and will be one of Jose Mourinho's first signings. I really don't think this makes sense from United's point of view. He's too old, too inflexible (tactically speaking, I have seen his bicycle kicks) and too demanding. But you think it does, why?

STUART: Come on man! It's the Ibra show! Ibra and Jose. At United. Up against Pep at City. And Wenger who never signed him. This is all kinds of awesome. Jose loves chaos. Loves deflection. Fixing United is a huge and difficult job and what better way to distract people to the uglier bits of the reno job, than to stick Ibra up top.

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NICK: No doubt it would be incredibly entertaining. But Jose's last six months at Chelsea was also incredible entertainment. Jose lurking in the shadows has been entertaining - but surely United need stability if they want to get close to the Ferguson days.

Ibra's going to be 35 in October and when he's thrived (Inter & PSG) the entire attack has been based around him. Isn't it too much of a risk to base your entire attack around a 35 year-old who is incredibly temperamental? Ibra claims he's leaving PSG like a legend - I'm worried he's going to finish his career like another legend - Muhammad Ali, stumbling in defeat towards retirement, not knowing his time is up.

STUART: How's your glass? Looks more than half empty to me... Ibra is a mercurial, one-off talent. A showman. United have been deathly dull for the last three years. They won't be with Ibra on board.

His role will be to provide a spark, and a focus while the development of Martial, Lingard and Rashford continues. Imagine what Rashford could learn form Ibra! All the talk of "the United Way" is a smokescreen. If Van Gaal had finished second, he'd still be in the job.  Jose will grind United back to winning ways and no one will notice as Ibra will do two amazing things a month, and everyone will be happy.

NICK: But is Ibra the best option? Surely United need someone who can be there for the next five seasons? Someone like Harry Kane, someone like Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang? Players who are going to last longer and are more adaptable based on each match. You would think United with all their money could at least tempt Robert Lewandowski.

Ibra is not only a risk because of his age, but because of his price. If his salary at PSG is anything to go by - and sure United will probably fund it by announcing an official noodle partner for the South East Asian market - but Zlatan's performances in the latter stages of the Champions League over the last few years suggest against top opposition in the big games he struggles.

What do you think would make a successful season for Zlatan? Is it a number of goals or important goals? I can't see him scoring more than 18 goals next season.

STUART: United need to be United again. They need swagger. They need personality. They have Martial who is going to be a star. But for now, with Rooney in decline, they need a sugar hit. Ibra is the sugar hit.

One season of Ibra, back into Champions League, then it's business as usual. And Jose will find his usual dog of war in centre mid, an uncompromising defender or two, be hard to beat and rely on the pace and promise of Lingard and Martial and the magic of Ibra.


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4 min read
Published 24 May 2016 at 2:36pm
By Nick Stoll, Stuart Randall
Source: SBS