Zlatan Ibrahimovic has revealed what Jose Mourinho told him after he suffered a serious knee ligament injury at the end of last season.
The Swedish striker made his long-awaited return from injury in Saturday’s 4-1 dismantling of promoted side Newcastle United, coming on as a second-half substitute for the young Anthony Martial, who scored in the game.
He was given a standing ovation at Old Trafford with a real sense of excitement at his return after scoring 28 goals in a Red shirt last season. Ibrahimovic told reporters after the game that there were no doubts about his future at United.
“It’s fantastic to be playing,” Zlatan admitted. “Jose said, ‘Do whatever you want, I trust in you and you know what you have to do,’ so I was not worried.
“The contract is all paperwork and I do the physical work. Even if I had a contract or not I needed to train. I knew I would stay because I wanted to stay. The numbers have never been an issue.
“I could have signed a deal after two months but didn’t because I am honest with myself. I want to stay because I can perform.”
Ibrahimovic’s contract now takes him past his 37th birthday and onto next summer at United. He’ll leave the club at the end of this season, as things stand, and perhaps that could be a good thing for the development of Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford in terms of gametime.
But for entertainment, mentality and goals, Ibrahimovic has previously insisted, as well as his agent Mino Raiola, that he’s got many years left in him at the top despite his age. He’s almost played for two decades in senior football, now.
But he’s making no commitments to United for next season just yet.
He said: “I am at the age where I can choose what I want to do. I don’t sign five or 10-year deals. I am just happy to be back playing and doing what I am good at.”