Veteran forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic on Thursday finally confirmed what had been expected for weeks: next season he will be a Manchester United player. The 34-year-old, who left French champions Paris Saint-Germain following the expiration of his contract at the end of last season, made the announcement of his move to Old Trafford on social media on the day he officially became a free agent.
— Zlatan Ibrahimović (@Ibra_official) June 30, 2016
The striker, who recently retired from international football with Sweden’s exit from Euro 2016, will join United on the back of his most prolific season ever, scoring 50 goals. In his career he has won 13 league titles, including one under new Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho when the pair were together at Inter Milan in the 2008-09 season.
Both men have spoken warmly of each other since. And, given United’s scoring problems last season, it is no surprise that Mourinho has turned to Ibrahimovic to make him his second signing at Old Trafford, following the capture of Ivorian defender Eric Bailly.
Ibrahimovic is also highly unlikely to be the last arrival this summer, as Mourinho looks to reshape the Manchester United squad.
The next player to join could well be Borussia Dortmund’s Henrikh Mkhitaryan. Earlier this week, the German club confirmed that United had “significantly improved their offer,” believed to be 24 million euros ($26.6 million). United’s new bid, according to reports in Germany, is thought to be 42.5 million euros ($47 million), and is set to be accepted by Dortmund. The fee would represent a staggering amount for a player who is in the final year of his contract.
The 27-year-old attacking midfielder joined Dortmund from Shakhtar Donetsk three years ago and will be expected to add both goals and creativity to the United side, after scoring 23 goals and producing 32 assists last season. However, it is worth noting that his first two seasons in Germany were not the same resounding success, often missing big chances in big games.
Meanwhile, Manchester United is believed to be increasing its interest in long-time target Paul Pogba. According to French publication L’Equipe, United has opened talks with Juventus over the midfielder, who left Old Trafford for the Italian champion on a free transfer four years ago.
Pogba, currently attempting to inspire France to Euro 2016 glory, has long been linked with a transfer away from Turin, with United and Chelsea as well as Spanish giants Barcelona and Real Madrid rumored to be interested. But he will not be easy to prize away, with Juventus said only to be willing to listen to offers of 100 million euros ($111 million).
One superstar who now looks unlikely to be joining Manchester United any time soon is Neymar. United has been regularly linked to the Brazilian forward over the past year as talks over a new contract stalled with Barcelona. But there was always a suspicion that the 24-year-old may have been using United’s interest to engineer a better deal at the Camp Nou. And Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu has now revealed that he expects an extension to Neymar’s deal to be imminent.
"Neymar wants to continue at the club and the club wants him to continue," he said. "I don't know if it will be today, tomorrow or the day after, but in the coming days we will confirm his renewal for another five seasons.
"He has never said that he wanted to leave the club. The club's lawyers and Neymar are closing the final details [of the contract] over the coming days."