The big Swede, who arrived at Old Trafford back in July, has been an immovable presence at the masthead of Man United’s attack, claiming 26 goals so far this season.
Doubt continues to loom over whether Zlatan, currently on a one year contract, will remain at United for another year, with some reports claiming that he would only extend his current deal if Mourinho’s men secure a place in next season’s Champions League.
And Neville, speaking after United’s 3-2 League Cup final win over Southampton, noted that Mourinho would struggle to find a suitable replacement for the 35-year-old when he does finally decide to hang up his boots.
“I think he has to play every game at the moment,” he said. “I’ve seen it over the years at United: United need players who have huge personality and character – Bryan Robson, Roy Keane, Cristiano Ronaldo, even Wayne Rooney three or four years ago.
“You look at Pogba, who I don’t think is playing particularly well, who has that as well.
“You think there is a huge void there to fill. Ibrahimovic is definitely carrying them at the moment. The players will look at him in the tunnel and feel confident with him being there.
“They’ve lacked personality and character but in him they have someone who believes and says everything he’s going to do. It’s a huge job that Jose Mourinho will be thinking about already [replacing him].
“He probably wants another year out of him at a minimum. He needs to win the league at Manchester United, how is even going to think about winning a league – can Zlatan play every single week?
“He needs to think about how he can replace that personality and character at some point in the next 18 months, because he’s unbelievable at the moment.”
There are some players that you simply cannot replace, and Zlatan is without doubt one of them. The Swede gives United more than just a guarantee of goals; he provides an unavoidable presence on the pitch, like a beacon of raw arrogance and omnipotence, ominously lurking across the back four until, almost out of nowhere, he is there, ruthlessly punishing the opposition.
Finding the same level of pedigree in front of goal, then, is more or less impossible. That is something we can agree on. But with Marcus Rashford exhibiting signs of continued improvement, alongside the potential arrival of Antoine Griezmann, United fans can remain optimistic going forward.