Jose Mourinho has made it abundantly clear that he still wants to see a fourth signing arrive before the transfer window shuts.
Inter Milan’s Ivan Perisic has been a target since June and Manchester United were reportedly very close to securing his services, but the Serie A side’s demand for a fee of no less than £45m – which exceeds the amount the club can pay – has stopped the transfer in his tracks.
The Portuguese probably knew this, expressing a desire for another winger more in speculative hope than genuine expectation, noting he “wouldn’t cry” if nobody else came in.
And this is because Mourinho has already lined up a fourth signing – somebody closer to home: Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
He claimed 28 goals last season before suffering a season-ending injury against Anderlecht in April. The 35-year-old was released in June after his contract expired but talks are underway over handing him a new short-term contract once he recovers in the new year, with an added incentive of a coaching role once he decides to retire from playing.
What Mourinho wants, it seems, is another dimension going forward for this season. Something different. Perisic would have provided this but that dream has died. But to the 54-year-old it doesn’t matter: Zlatan’s return to the squad will have a galvanising effect, both on and off the pitch, and if goals are starting to dry up there aren’t many better players to inject some lifeblood into United’s season in January.