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Jose suggests when Zlatan could return

Jose Mourinho has refused to set a timeframe for when Zlatan Ibrahimovic could make his return for Manchester United but is hoping the 35-year-old will boost our squad after Christmas.

Last season’s top scorer suffered a serious knee ligament injury in our Europa League quarter-final second leg win over Anderlecht at Old Trafford at the end of April.  As a result, he was initially ruled out of action until January 2018.

Ibrahimovic’s contract was not immediately renewed when it expired this summer but earlier this week we announced that he football legend had signed a new one-year deal to the end of the 2017-18 season.

The Swede was the talk of Friday’s pre-match press conference where Mourinho was able to confirm that there is space for Ibrahimovic in our Champions League squad but that the boss doesn’t expect him to take part in any games.  Our final group game is on Tuesday 5 December, versus CSKA Moscow.

Mourinho told our official website:

“He will not be ready for the group phase of the Champions League. I don’t think there will be any chance of that.

“Do we have space in the Champions League list to have him? Yes, we have, so we don’t need to leave any player outside the Champions League list. But I’m not thinking with Zlatan to play any part in the group phase. Hopefully, he can play in the knockout phase but, for that, we need to finish [in the] top two.”

When asked for a realistic return date, Mourinho suggested it would be after Christmas or the New Year.  He said:

“I don’t want to think about it. I don’t even ask, I don’t speak with him about it, I don’t speak with the medical team about it. I just think he will be an extra man for us in the second part of the season.

“When I say second part of the season, normally we say January, after Christmas, when the transfer window re-opens in January. But I have no idea at all and I think the right way is not even to think about it and just let him do his work, step by step and come back when he’s really ready.”

Jose Mourinho sounded delighted to have Ibrahimovic back at the club and praised his determination to recover to contribute this season:

“I’m really happy he’s with us because it shows me the dimension of the player and the dimension of the club. The dimension of the player because it would be very easy for him to say goodbye, to say it’s enough, one European competition, success at Manchester United, big injury, goodbye. He doesn’t do that.

“He wants to follow his other dreams and he wants to play football at the highest level, so it shows the dimension of character and personality of the player.

“And it shows the dimension of the club – a club like Manchester United, in my opinion, has to show how big it is in details and this is a big, big detail. A player that gets injured in a Manchester United shirt, fighting for Manchester United, the club has to be there for him and I’m really happy with both club and player.”

Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s experience and leadership could be an excellent addition to our squad.  He certainly has a lot to offer both Romelu Lukaku and Marcus Rashford in terms of developing their game.

Should he return in January, it could be perfecting timing as we could have a busy fixture list for the first two months of the New Year – Premier League, Champions League, FA Cup and EFL Cup games are all possible, so having a third striker in the squad could be crucial.