Updated: Saturday, 23rd June 2018 @ 5:03pm

Can Zlatan Ibrahimović make a major contribution this season?

Can Zlatan Ibrahimović make a major contribution this season?

| By MM staff

Zlatan Ibrahimović’s road to recovery has been sensational.

Most football fans assumed that his career was over when he suffered a season-ending ACL injury against Anderlecht back in April but the iconic Swede has bounced back stronger than ever, recording a cameo outing in United’s 4-1 win over Newcastle in November.

After less than eight months, Zlatan had made a full recovery and that is testament to his own endeavour, as well as the work of the club’s medical staff.

The United striker was a pivotal figure for Jose Mourinho’s side last season, bagging 28 goals in 46 appearances in the famous Red Devils jersey.

An impressive record for a 35-year-old but made even more impressive as it was his first ever season in the Premier League.

When United signed the Swedish legend, some fans were wary of another Radamel Falcao-like flop but Zlatan’s class was clear for all to see.

Drawing a blank

Having made six appearances in all competitions this campaign, Ibrahimović has that one goal in a losing cause against Bristol City.

That won’t bother United fans too much though, he has mustered very little football. Mourinho is intent on bringing Zlatan back slowly and fans may have to wait a little longer before he earns a spot in the starting line-up.

United are second in the Premier League table, second favourites for the title, and Mourinho won’t jeopardise league position for the sake of an emotional Old Trafford return.

Unfortunately for Zlatan, Romelu Lukaku appears to have regained his form as of late – and the Belgium striker is clearly Mourinho’s main frontman at the present moment.

With three goals in his last four games, Lukaku is showing signs that he is getting back to his brilliant best. United won all three matches by the odd goal, silencing those doubters who claim that Lukaku tends to score when the pressure is off.

Best yet to come

Ibrahimović can make a major impact in the second half of the season though – and United fans know it.

His experience and guidance to the younger members of the squad may prove decisive as the Red Devils continue their pursuit of glory.

Winning the Premier League from here is going to be tough but United are still in contention for the FA Cup and the Champions League isn’t out of reach either.

Europe’s elite club competition has eluded Zlatan’s grasp over the years and he will want to get back to top form in a bid to help United claim another major accolade.

Mourinho’s side lifted the Europa League crown in the 2016/17 campaign but the Champions League is the pinnacle of modern football. It would be typical of Ibrahimović to save his biggest efforts for this competition – he could be the difference maker for United in the coming months.

Fresh

Zlatan will be fresher than most in the second half of the campaign and that can only mean positive things for the Red Devils.

Ibrahimović isn’t able to influence matches as he was five years or so ago but he can still produce a moment of magic to hand United the initiative – and his vibrancy should rub off on the rest of the squad.

Imagine a two-pronged attack of Ibrahimović and Lukaku? Frightening…

Expecting Ibrahimović to displace Lukaku at the forefront of United’s attack would be foolish at this moment in time.

Should the Belgium striker struggle, Mourinho has the option to mix things up and go with Zlatan – and plenty of United fans will be calling for a change.

He isn’t getting any younger but Zlatan Ibrahimović could have one final trick up his sleeve.

Do NOT write him off just yet.

Image courtesy of Domfell, with thanks.