Louis Saha has hailed the mentality of Zlatan Ibrahimovic as the Swede returned from a long-term injury at the weekend.
Ibrahimovic replaced Anthony Martial from the substitutes bench to make his first appearance for Manchester United since April, when he suffered a serious knee ligament injury in the Reds’ UEFA Europa League quarter-final second-leg against Anderlecht.
He didn’t score, but got a standing ovation as he came on at Old Trafford in Man United’s 4-1 dismantling of Newcastle United.
Saha compared the return of the 36-year-old to the return of midfielder Paul Scholes, who retired in 2011 before coming back to United a year later with Sir Alex Ferguson desperate to improve his midfield.
“I think Zlatan hasn’t been injured much in his career,” Saha said, speaking at an #ILOVEUNITED event in New York City.
“But, mentally he seems to be very confident about it.
“He doesn’t show fear and he has never been someone who will show it anyway. And he will bring confidence and leadership.
“The way he moves is more about his brain than his physique.
“You can’t really lose that because he is a big guy who knows how to move, knows the rhythm of the game so this is the thing he will never lose.
“It’s like Paul Scholes coming back from retirement, it is like he is still young and has the legs.
“But because of this level of player, they understand the game, they know how to give the information to the youngsters.”
Saha is right to point out the similarities, though Scholes obviously retired while Ibrahimovic did not. The Englishman hung up his boots and his number 18 shirt was given to Ashley Young. Back a year later, he was given the number 22 instead. Ibrahimovic initially left United in the summer as the number 9 and has returned as the number 10, with summer signing Romelu Lukaku taking his old number.
Scholes’ impact after his return was huge, hopefully Ibrahimovic’s can be the same.