Former Manchester United and Liverpool midfielder Paul Ince believes that Zlatan Ibrahimovic has already reached legendary status as Old Trafford this season.
The Swede produced his biggest moment yet in a Man United shirt at Wembley last weekend, heading home a dramatic late winner during his side’s 3-2 win over Southampton in the League Cup final.
He has now claimed 26 goals in 38 games, emphatically silencing those that questioned his age over the summer in the process.
And Ince, speaking to Paddy Power, claimed that the 35-year-old can already be regarded as a legend at United.
“There’s rumours he won’t stay if they don’t get Champions League, but he came to the club knowing that they weren’t in the competition. I can’t see his opinion changing, especially after being at the club,” he said.
“At the moment, it’s crucial that United keep Zlatan next season. There aren’t many options out there that can match him, and he’s proved what he’s capable of in just one season in Manchester.
“Why wouldn’t he want to stay at Manchester United? He’s been all around Europe at the top level, he’s at one of the biggest clubs in the world and he’s scoring goals.
“Why would he not want to do another year at one of the greatest clubs ever with one of the best mangers in history? He looks happy and comfortable. He says himself he’s feeling good.
“Besides, where is he going to go? He’s not going to go to Barcelona, Real Madrid and he’s been at PSG.
“It looks as though United have got a great chance of getting in the Champions League, so why not stay and see what he can do there?
“Everywhere he’s been he’s scored goals and there’s no doubt he’s one of the greatest strikers of all time.
“He’s one of the greatest players we’ve ever seen and we so lucky to finally to have him in England. Just like Eric Cantona did, he’s become a Manchester United legend in one season. So few players actually do that.
“It takes some five, 10, 15 years. He’s an instant legend and it’s a credit to how good he is.”
Whether Zlatan, not even 40 games into his time at Old Trafford, can be regarded as a United legend is indeed questionable. After all, debate continues to circulate around whether Wayne Rooney, the club’s all time top scorer, deserves to be regarded as a legend at the club.
Giving the Swede ‘United legend’ status, therefore, is probably a bit far-fetched. But two things are certain: the first being that, above anything, he is a legend of the modern game; and the second being that Ibrahimovic will leave Old Trafford as a universally adored figure if he continues to produce the same level of brilliance displayed over the last few months.