Former Manchester United striker Andy Cole believes that Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s return from injury will help get the best out of Romelu Lukaku.
The Swede, following seven months on the sidelines with knee ligament damage, a momentous return from the bench during Man United’s 4-1 win over Newcastle United at the weekend.
His comeback coincided with a return to goalscoring form for Lukaku, who netted his 12th of the campaign in the second half having failed to score once throughout October.
And Cole, speaking to the club’s official website, noted that he was enthusiastic to see the pair spur each other on over the course of the season.
“I’m excited,” he said. “I was fortunate to be in that position at United, having other players after your place and that competition brings the best out of you.”
“I have no doubts it will bring the best out of Lukaku. He expected Zlatan to get fit at some stage.
“He started the season very well. He has found it difficult in a few games because the team didn’t create a lot of chances, and the team didn’t played as well as it could have, but I think he will be okay. I definitely think Zlatan will bring the best out of him.”
Jose Mourinho was notably coy about how exactly the pair would figure in the starting XI when pressed on the matter last week, refusing to go into tactical detail but pointing out that good players can always play together.
The 54-year-old has always seen the game in this way: to set high standards, organise a solid shape, and allow attacking players to adopt an intuitive approach as opposed to following a list of instructions.
And supporters ought to be encouraged by this notion. The combination of Lukaku’s running power and predatory instinct with Zlatan’s unique presence on the pitch could, if given the right surrounding conditions, culminate in a truly devastating attacking dynamic.
The prospect of how these two talents combine is tantalising, but the friendly rivalry they will develop can only be seen as a good thing as well. Both strikers are, after all, very much used to sitting at the top of the goalscoring charts and will not want to surrender that position to their teammate.