Zlatan Ibrahimovic set to miss the rest of the season with knee injury
Zlatan Ibrahimovic looks set to miss the rest of the season and may have played his final game for Manchester United, with the initial diagnosis of the knee injury he suffered against Anderlecht on Thursday night pointing to an extended lay-off.
Ibrahimovic limped out of United’s Europa League quarter-final shortly before the start of extra-time, with Sky Sports among those now reporting the veteran forward is set for a lengthy spell on the sidelines.
United manager Jose Mourinho reported that the initial prognosis on Ibrahimovic’s condition was ‘fairy negative’, with ex-Manchester United injury specialist Matt Radcliffe telling Independent.ie that he feared the worst for the 35-year-old striker.
"From the way his knee bent as he landed, that looks likely to be a posterior cruciate ligament injury or a meniscus tear," Radcliffe told us moments after the incident happened.
"The next 48 hours will be crucial in deciding the extent of the injury, but he will be very fortunate to get away with a long-term problem after.
"The fact that he walked off the field and didn't need a stretcher does not mean anything. That can happen even if your knee very badly damaged, but that looks like a bad one for me."
Now it appears Radcliffe’s immediate diagnosis was accurate, with reports emerging from United confirming Ibrahimovic will not play again this season.
Not only will his absence be a hammer blow to United after his 28-goals played such a key role in their league and cup efforts this season, but it will also come as a huge setback to a striker who would have been eyeing up a place in a Europa League final to be played in his native Sweden next month.
United need to overcome Spanish side Celta Vigo to progress to the final of the competition that offers a Champions League spot to the winners, but it looks like they will have to get there without their talismanic No.9.
Captain Wayne Rooney may now have an unexpectedly important role to play in what is left of United’s season, even though the club’s all-time record goal scorer was left on the bench for the duration of the second leg against Anderlecht.
Former United skipper Roy Keane suggested that snub from Mourinho was the ‘final nail in his coffin’ at Old Trafford, but Rooney could now be asked to fill the void left by Ibrahimovic’s absence.
It may also signal the end of Ibrahimovic’s time at United, with the striker yet to sign a contract to remain at the club for next season as he weighs up offers from Major League Soccer clubs in America.