Thursday 19 April 2018

Zlatan Ibrahimovic: If you want me to shine even more I will try to do it for you

Manchester Utd v Feyenoord, Live, eir Sport 1/BT Sport 2, 8.05

Zlatan Ibrahimovic:
Zlatan Ibrahimovic: "For me the most important thing is to play my game." Photo: Getty Images

Chris Bascombe

Zlatan Ibrahimovic has not had the instant impact he hoped in English football, but the Manchester United striker insists his mere presence is lighting up Old Trafford.

The Swedish superstar's confidence is evidently unaffected by a recent barren spell, in which he has scored only three goals in 12 games, but United need Ibrahimovic to sprinkle his stardust immediately to avoid an early exit from Europe against Feyenoord tonight.

Off the pitch, there are concerns that up to 4,000 ticketless Feyenoord fans are travelling to Manchester in the hope of getting in to the match. Dutch supporters with tickets have been told to pick them up - plus a wristband - at Victoria Station in the city centre, and given the club's notorious hooligan element, hundreds of extra police officers will be on duty.

On the pitch, Ibrahimovic foresees few problems for himself or for United. "I shine 24 hours," he said. "It depends how you want me to shine. I've been in the game 20 years and I'm getting older, but the older I get, the better I get. If you want me to shine even more I will try to do it for you.

"I felt I was unlucky in a couple of the games I didn't score. Some moments I was not focusing as I normally do, but I'm not worried about the goals. I mean, I have more than 450 in my career. As long as I'm creating the chances, or am there for the situation, then I'm not worried.

"The goals come automatically. For me the most important thing is to play my game. That is how you shine. I don't see myself as only scoring goals and playing bad. I prefer to play good and help the team win. If I score as well then it is a bonus."

Jose Mourinho says United will take up their option to keep the 35-year-old for another season. Ibrahimovic has spoken of his desire to play in the United States before he retires, but Mourinho said, "Zlatan's situation is simple. He has a one plus one year in the club. We are happy with him. We are going to execute the option of a second season. So in two years' time he can do what he wants because he is free."

Ibrahimovic confirmed he is on course to trigger his contract extension. "I have a contract that says one plus one. I feel good, I feel fresh and in shape. There will probably be a second year, and I want to have that," he said. "The second year goes automatic after a while - after certain things - so if it continues like this? Yes."

Mourinho, meanwhile, has ruled out the possibility of luring Lionel Messi from Barcelona. United are regularly linked with a world-record bid, although their neighbours Manchester City appear to covet him more.

Mourinho doubts Messi will ever leave the Nou Camp.

"Every season the same story. Every season he is going to leave and he never leaves and I honestly hope he never leaves because I think he belongs to Barca and they belong to him," he said.

Mourinho has also set himself a target of earning his own new deal beyond his current three years. "If you ask me would I like to stay here for more time than these three years? Yes," he said. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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