Sunday 18 March 2018

Zlatan Ibrahimovic reveals phone call with Lukaku and why he will wear the number 10 shirt this season

Zlatan Ibrahimovic is back at Manchester United
Zlatan Ibrahimovic is back at Manchester United

Evan Bartlett

Zlatan Ibrahimovic has signed a one-year deal at Manchester United but will not be wearing the same shirt as his first successful season at the club.

The Swedish forward scored 28 goals before injury in April ruled him out for the run-in.

When he fully recovers from that ruptured cruciate ligament, the 35-year will grace the Old Trafford turf once again – but this time with number 10 on his back instead of 9.

Ibrahimovic revealed that he gave his blessing to new signing Romelu Lukaku to take his old shirt and merely “upgraded” his own.

"Lukaku called me and said: 'Bro, can I get the No 9 shirt?'" Ibrahimovic told ESPN. "I said: 'I'm not on that level that I will make it difficult for you, I just want you to feel happy and feel welcome, so I give you the No 9 but I will take the No 10.' That's the way we do it.

"So I never left, I just upgraded my number."

United won three trophies last season but Ibrahimovic believes they are in a stronger position now than this time last year following the signings of Lukaku, Nemanja Matic and Victor Lindelof.

"We took three new players and with these three new players the team is stronger," he added.

"And signing Lukaku makes us even stronger because he has different qualities from me as a striker and from [Marcus] Rashford as a striker.

"He is a powerful guy and he brings extra qualities in a game."

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As revealed by The Independent, Ibrahimovic is being considered for a coaching role with the club when he eventually retires from playing.

On re-signing the forward, manager Jose Mourinho said: "We are delighted Zlatan is on the road to recovery and we are equally delighted to have his ambition and experience back with us.

"After his contribution last season he deserves our trust and we will be patient waiting for him to return. I have no doubt that he will be important in the second part of the season."

Independent News Service

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