Former Arsenal defender Martin Keown has likened Zlatan Ibrahimovic to Eric Cantona following the Swede’s match-winning display in the League Cup final last Sunday.
The Swede, labelled by many as ‘too old’ upon his arrival in July, has claimed 26 goals so far this season, with his most recent strike – an 87th minute header against Southampton in the League Cup final – handing Jose Mourinho his first trophy as Man United manager.
His raw omnipotence at No.9 since joining over the summer has led to a number of former players drawing comparisons between the Ibrahimovic and Cantona.
And Keown, speaking earlier this week, was the latest to make such remarks.
“Even then you could see Ibrahimovic had such a big presence. Now that he is thriving at Manchester United, the comparisons with Eric Cantona are inevitable,” he said.
“The two men share so many characteristics. There is very little between them in terms of technique. Cantona was possibly a cleaner striker of the ball — he hit through the ball like a knife — but Ibrahimovic is not far behind.
“They have the same demeanour. Ibrahimovic standing with his chest puffed out is reminiscent of Cantona playing with his collar pulled up. They are not the sort of players you would want to wind up!
“He is the new king of Old Trafford. If Ibrahimovic was 10 years younger we would be saying that United’s future success would be assured. Ibrahimovic is more of a stop-gap, but United will be hoping that he does not leave in the same way as Cantona.”
Will United fans remember Zlatan with the same level of nostalgia and enduring love that they have for the Frenchman, the original King of Old Trafford? You would think that, given his limited time as a United player, achieving such iconic status would be difficult.
But then again: the Swede is only 38 games into his time under Mourinho and has already assumed his status as the side’s unmistakeable talisman. Nobody – with the exception of the man himself – could predict the impact that Zlatan could have in the coming months.