Zlatan Ibrahimovic looks set to remain as Manchester United’s talisman for another year and launch the next glory era, according to manager Jose Mourinho.
The 35-year-old Swedish striker’s two goals in last Sunday’s League Cup final against Southampton took his tally to 26 goals this season –- and his personal trophy haul to a staggering 31 in his career.
Ibrahimovic and Mourinho
United have an option to extend Ibrahimovic’s one-year contract for another 12 months.
“I think Zlatan will be fundamental in the second year of this team and I think he’s willing to stay,” said Mourinho.
“It’s been an amazingly successful year for him. The number of goals he’s scored, the trophy he won, the impact he’s had, the two times he played in the cathedral (Wembley) is more than enough to consider him a success at Man United.”
Mourinho believes Ibrahimovic is integral to United’s chances of success as he looks to strengthen his squad this summer.
“This team has a lot to grow up. The next transfer window will bring the team to a different level because we’re going to try to bring in a few players,” he said.
“We need to improve for the next step. My feelings are he’s really proud of himself, he’s happy with the success, so I see him staying,” said Mourinho.
Meanwhile, Mourinho believes United have the best right back in the world in Ecuador veteran Antonio Valencia.
– ‘To be the best you need to work hard’ –
But the Portuguese reckons they could also have the best left back in Luke Shaw if he continues to work hard.
The 21-year-old has struggled to win Mourinho over but the England international was in his plans for Saturday’s visit of Bournemouth.
“I think I have the best right-back in the world — Antonio Valencia is absolutely phenomenal but this season I’ve played Valencia, Matteo Darmian, Ashley Young, Eric Bailly, Timo Fosu-Mensah and Axel Tuanzebe there,” he said.
“We have lots of left backs. Daley Blind, Shaw, Marcos Rojo, Darmian can all play left back.
“But the one that should be the best of all in a couple of years — because potentially he should have all the attributes — is Luke Shaw.
“By age, physicality, intensity, being aggressive going forward, he should be the best.
“But to be the best you need to work hard. It’s what he’s trying to do.”
While Mourinho is convinced Ibrahimovic will stay at Old Trafford, he can offer no guarantees about the future of Wayne Rooney beyond the summer.
The United boss refused to stand in the way of Rooney moving to the Chinese Super League after being linked recently.
And the Old Trafford manager has no problem with Everton manager Ronald Koeman speaking openly about his admiration for the United captain, who started his career at Goodison.
“In the (League Cup) final at 2-2 with the team in difficulties and possibly going to play 40 more minutes, Rooney was ready to go on the pitch,” said Mourinho.
“Since he decided to stay and fight for Manchester United, he’s an important player for us.
“I think by giving these two big details I’m telling you all the talk about Everton for me makes nonsense.
“Next season 100 per cent I’d like him to be with us but I don’t give you 100 per cent (assurances).
“I like the players to be happy and not just to be with me because I want them with me.”