“I came. I said. I conquered.”
It was hard to disagree with Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s sentiment last month on Instagram as official confirmation emerged that a serious knee injury had brought an end to his prolific one-season stint at Manchester United.
But because “lions don’t recover like humans”, another line from the Swede’s memorable social media, it appears that a fresh contract at Old Trafford could be heading the way of the iconic ex-Ajax, Juventus, Internazionale, Barcelona, AC Milan and Paris Saint Germain striker.
Would it be another masterstroke by the ‘Special One’ to rehire a 35-year-old who is expected to be fit again in December, or a damaging U-turn?
Here, Sport360 lists three reasons why bringing Ibrahimovic back into the fold would be the wrong move.
When you examine Ibrahimovic’s individual numbers at United, his stint can be considered nothing but a success. He lived up to his giant reputation with an age-defying return of 28 goals in 46 games and delivered in the Community Shield and League Cup final.
Yet the wider context does him no favours. The Premier League’s official statistics show him wasting 18 clear chances – five more than joint-second placed Benik Afobe of Bournemouth and Manchester City’s Sergio Aguero.
Such misses contrived to United finishing a disappointing sixth. Several unwanted Premier League-era records were notched up with Ibrahimovic leading the line; most draws (15), fewest wins (17) and least goals (54).
The Swede’s lack of pace and propensity to drop into midfield bogged down the United attack. New signing Romelu Lukaku’s cut and thrust will be welcome.
A changing of the guard is under way at Old Trafford.
Gone are the elder statesmen of captain Wayne Rooney and Ibrahimovic. In their place, a group of attackers blessed with vibrancy and inspiration are ready to step up.
Lukaku will be desperate to impress after he so publicly turned down a return to champions Chelsea in favour of a £75 million (Dh360.7 million) move from Everton. At 24, he is the perfect age to grasp the responsibility of being the major goal threat for one of world football’s grandees.
The sight of him interlinking with vibrant England forward Marcus Rashford is one to relish. The 19-year-old plays the game at turbo speed, something Ibrahimovic for all his timeless qualities cannot offer.
Further back, centre midfielder Paul Pogba’s reputation after a world-record transfer was sullied by Ibrahimovic regularly spurning his delightful would-be assists.
The imaginative France superstar will look so much better with attackers who head towards goal with their swift runs, rather than dropping back into the midfield quagmire.
Ibrahimovic’s status as a modern great was assured long before he stepped onto the Old Trafford turf for the first time last August.
His luster was then only added to as a characteristic flood of soundbites and goals followed.
This is why the sight of him potentially winding down his days as a bit-part player for United in the second half of 2017/18 does not sit right. An even worse proposition would be to see his performances hampered by the double ligament damage accrued in April’s painful fall against Celta Vigo in the Europa’s semi-finals.
The opportunity to conquer the ‘City of Angels’ with either LA Galaxy or the new Los Angeles FC in Major League Soccer would be far more fitting.
Ibrahimovic deserves to go out with a bang. Ruling Major League Soccer and introducing the United States to the ‘I Am Zlatan’ persona would provide the perfect ending to one of football’s most-iconic careers.
Manchester City forward Gabriel Jesus has been a revelation ever since his Premier League debut under Pep Guardiola last season.
Apparently, former Brazil international, Juninho was added to the list of footballers who’ve been impressed by the star striker’s abilities.
Speaking in an interview, Juninho said he was looking forward to watching him play in the upcoming Premier League season and he has been mightily impressed by Jesus’ personality as well right from his time at Palmeiras.
Not just that, Juninho feels Jesus is perfect fit for Guardiola’s style of play and English football as a whole.
Meanwhile, Juninho feels Jesus and his team-mate Sergio Aguero are both different kinds of strikers and we wonder how Guardiola will be using both his goal-machines once the Premier League season takes off.
Arsenal completed their Australian tour with a 3-1 win over the Western Sydney Wanderers with all their goals coming in the first half in Sydney on Saturday.
The Gunners scored their goals in a 11-minute period late in the first half through Olivier Giroud, Aaron Ramsey and Mohamed Elneny.
The English giants were held in the second half with the 2014 Asian Champion League winners pulling a goal back off an indirect free kick from Steven Lustica.
Arsenal leave for China winning both games on their first tour to Australia in 40 years after beating A-League champions Sydney FC 2-0 on Thursday.
“They made it quite physical for us, they pushed us a little bit and we played very well for long periods in the first half,” Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said.
“The players who came on in the second half gave us more impetus and we finished strongly, unfortunately we couldn’t score any more but overall it was a positive game.”
The game drew 83,221 fans for a two-game total of 163,653 for Arsenal’s visit.
Arsenal broke away with three goals late in the opening half after a competitive opening. French striker Giroud swept home a cross from Spaniard Nacho Monreal after an overlapping run on the left in the 33rd minute and they were two-up a few minutes later.
Monreal found Ramsey with a long ball and he lobbed goalkeeper Janjetovic on the edge of the box.
The Gunners grabbed a third goal nearing half-time when Egyptian Elneny’s long-range volley deflected off defender Brendan Hamill’s leg past Janjetovic into the unguarded net.
Gunners’ record signing Frenchman Alexandre Lacazette showed his immense skills when he turned his marker and fired a shot at the keeper in the opening minutes.
Elneny came close to a second goal when another long-range shot cannoned off the underside of the bar wth Janjetovic beaten minutes after the resumption.
But the Wanderers stuck at it and Jack Clisby hit the bar with a drive and Ramsey conceded a free kick with a back pass to substitute goalkeeper Emi Martinez.
Lustica hammered the indirect free kick against Monreal on the goal-line and put the rebound into the roof of the net for his team’s opener in the 57th minute.
Wenger made mass changes midway through the second period with Lacazette and Giroud among those substituted.
The Gunners came close to adding to their tally in the final stages with Mesut Ozil and Eddie Nketiah hitting the post and Theo Walcott having a sharp chance saved by goalkeeper Janjetovic.
Provided by AFP