The Swede has claimed 26 goals in 38 games this season, with his most recent coming in the form of a dramatic late header to seal the League Cup for Mourinho’s men.
Doubt continues to loom over whether Zlatan will activate the extension clause on his existing one-year contract over the summer; the 35-year-old’s agent, Mino Raiola, refused to discuss the matter following the League Cup final.
And Fellaini, speaking to ESPN, was quick to point towards the enormous influence brought by the Swede this season.
“We can thank Zlatan because he’s there at the right moment, he scores goals,” he said.
“He’s a very important player, but everyone has been in important in all the games. I have a good relationship with him.
“Everyone knows he’s a great player, that he works hard, that he has his character and that he always wants to win, you see that in training. During games, he’s the first one to want to win. And that desire to win is good for the team.”
Zlatan’s departure over the summer would, without doubt, damage Man United’s upward trajectory under Mourinho more than anything else ahead of the 2017/18 campaign.
The Swede has established himself as United’s principal talisman this season; a captain without the armband, leading the line with an air of pure, undiluted arrogance, displaying an insatiable appetite for victory.
Such an influence has permeated the entire side; having Zlatan in your side forces you to work harder, to want more, to match his level of power and commitment on the pitch. And seeing him leave ahead of next season – the campaign that will see the club, just like they did with Louis van Gaal, demand an assault on the title from Mourinho’s men – would be hugely deflating for players and fans alike.