Saturday 10 December 2016

Zlatan Ibrahimovic: 'I could stay at Man United for three years'

James Ducker

Published 13/08/2016 | 02:30

Ibrahimovic has raised the prospect of staying at Old Trafford beyond his 37th birthday. Picture Credit: Ben Hoskins/Getty Images
Ibrahimovic has raised the prospect of staying at Old Trafford beyond his 37th birthday. Picture Credit: Ben Hoskins/Getty Images

Zlatan Ibrahimovic said he could stay at Manchester United for "more than three years" as he vowed to conquer English football.

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The 34-year-old former Paris St-Germain striker is in line to make his Premier League debut for United away to Bournemouth tomorrow and has promised fans they will see "a lion" on the pitch.

United supporters will have to wait to get their first glimpse of world-record signing Paul Pogba after it emerged the France midfielder will miss the visit to the Vitality Stadium because of a one-match suspension which has been carried over from last season after he was booked in the semi-final and final of the Copa Italia for Juventus.

Read More: Paul Pogba and Chris Smalling miss Manchester United's trip to Bournemouth

But Ibrahimovic clearly has no intention of being upstaged this season by United's new £89m signing and the forward - who signed a one-year contract with the option of a further 12 months after leaving PSG as a free agent - has raised the prospect of staying at Old Trafford beyond his 37th birthday.

"I don't believe there is anyone who could say 'no' to Manchester United," said Ibrahimovic. "Even the name sounds cool.

"It's massive. It's top level. I played for Barcelona and also for Juventus and AC Milan but I think this could be one step more.

"Turning down a challenge does not exist in my world. I have been in every country, now England, and that is why I find the adventure cool. I came, I won, I went. Hopefully I can do the same here.

"Let's see what happens - you never know, it could be more than two (years), it could be more than three (years at United).

Perform

"I will not be somewhere only because I am Ibrahimovic. I will be somewhere because I can perform and bring results. It's about coming and winning and making Manchester United shine again."

In a wide-ranging interview with Sky Sports, Ibrahimovic, who scored the winning goal in United's Community Shield victory against Leicester City last Sunday days after telling the defending Premier League champions they would lose, also scoffed at the notion of him being arrogant.

"People have the image of me that I'm a bad boy, I'm this and I'm that," he said. "People are curious, 'How is this Zlatan?' I'm a family guy ... but when I come on the pitch I'm a lion.

"That's the big difference. I don't believe I'm arrogant in the way that people think. I believe in myself. I am not pretending to be somebody I am not.

"I am not pretending to be perfect. I make mistakes ... I will still make mistakes. The one who thinks he is perfect will fall very fast.

"I don't believe in acting. I don't get paid to act."

United manager Jose Mourinho has claimed Ibrahimovic will be a "gift" for Marcus Rashford in terms of the young England striker's development.

And the Swede is convinced he can "do a lot" for Rashford and United's other young players.

"I see Rashford as a huge talent," he said. "I get to see him live every day now and he is the future of England.

"I got help from many players. I remember I went to Juventus, where all the big stars were. I saw the way they were behaving, how professional they were, how they were eating.

"You study all the same details and start to do the same. Then you become one of them."

Ibrahimovic hopes to bring some swagger back to United after the sterile, risk-averse football played under Louis van Gaal last season.

But Mourinho believes it is a myth that United always played with cavalier attacking instincts under Alex Ferguson, even if he has vowed to replicate the former manager's brand of "winning football".

The Portuguese claims the nostalgic view of United as a team that attacked with reckless abandon does not always tally with the reality and recalled the defensive-minded approach Ferguson adopted in the 1-1 draw against his Real Madrid side in the first leg of their Champions League round of 16 tie at the Bernabeu in February 2013.

"I saw Man United as a winning team, not as always an attacking team," he said. "I played sometimes against Man United and Man United was a defensive team.

Defend

"I played Real Madrid-Manchester United in Madrid and they crossed the midfield line twice and Wayne Rooney played outside-left to defend my right-back.

"I saw them always as a winning team with an attacking philosophy, yes, but a winning team and the winning team needs to score more goals than they concede.

"That's the challenge for Man United - to try to be a winning team in a new era of the Premier League that is much more difficult than before.

"We feel we are candidates for the title. Many more think the same way but they are afraid to say it. That is not our way."

Mourinho has questioned the wisdom of Van Gaal's decision to allow Adnan Januzaj to join Borussia Dortmund in a calamitous loan deal last season after the Belgium winger moved to Sunderland yesterday on a season-long loan.

"He fits in my plans," Mourinho said of Januzaj. "That is why he is on loan at a Premier League club. If I don't care where he goes, if I don't care which club, which manager, I just send him to Borussia Dortmund, where he didn't play one match."

Mourinho also insisted there were no problems with Juan Mata, who was substituted in the Community Shield only 26 minutes after coming on as a substitute.

"He (Mata) was very happy that he was my first choice to come to the pitch in a difficult moment of the game for us when we conceded a goal," Mourinho said. "The one that was not happy was (Henrikh) Mkhitaryan because he came on for (Mata) with one minute (left) and didn't touch the ball."

Telegraph.co.uk

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