Phil Jones has admitted that Manchester United will miss Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s presence in the dressing room.
The Swede confounded his critics during his opening campaign by netting 28 goals, playing a big part in Man United’s triumphs in the League Cup and Europa League, before suffering a severe knee ligament injury in April.
He returned this season but, hampered by continued problems, only made two starts and joined LA Galaxy last week.
And Jones, reflecting on the 36-year-old’s departure, noted that his aura in the dressing room and on the pitch will be irreplaceable.
“Zlatan has been fantastic,” he said.
“He’s one of the best characters I’ve played with. We’re going to miss him. He had a very good season last year and scored a lot of goals for us.”
“Not only was he an important player on the pitch, he was also an important person in the dressing room. I wish him good luck. He’s had a fantastic career.”
Every United player who was at the club from July 2016 to March 2018 will have a story to tell about Zlatan. They will no doubt be asked in future interviews about what it was like to share a dressing room with one of sport’s greatest mavericks and achievers, and they will, each time, enjoy elaborating.
Such is Zlatan’s unique character: ruthlessly ambitious, perfectly arrogant yet never selfish, always on hand to dispense advice. He spent over 15 years plundering goals across Europe, his image becoming more iconic with each club.
The Swede only had one season in the team but, much like Henrik Larsson, supporters will always remember him fondly.