Zlatan Will be Man United's New Cantona and Why All Premier League Fans Should Rejoice at Ibrahimovic's arrivalPublished July 13, 2016
You know what. Zlatan Ibrahimovic doesn’t get nearly as much praise as he should.
The Swedish international, by his own volition, is something of a comical figure.
The 34-year-old has a wicked sense of humour and a narcissistic edge that’s built to make you laugh, as opposed as a creation of his own ego.
This isn’t to say that Zlatan Ibrahimovic doesn’t have an ego the size of a small eastern European country, but in many ways this is a well earned character trait that has been honed and hewn over the course of a footballing career that is pretty much unparalleled.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic plays the game in the same manner as we all did in the local park. He’s willing to try anything, plays with a swagger and a smile on his face the breadth of an ocean. He loves the game and that love is infectious.
That attitude and character no doubt helps Zlatan deal with football at the highest level, the pressure cooker atmosphere barely registering on the Malmo born star’s radar.
He is football’s Chuck Norris, though more like a Chuck Norris that’s won multiple Oscars as opposed to a Chuck Norris that has starred in dozens of action films of questionable quality.
Zlatan’s been there, done that, and he’s got the T-Shirt.
This Zlatan is ready for battle in the Premier League and all fans of the game in England should rejoice.
Manchester United fans should in particular should be foaming at the mouth with glee.
Make no mistake, all things going according to plan (as they most often do for Zlatan), this free transfer signing is primed and ready to be Manchester United’s next Eric Cantona.
Back from the Brink
It would be fair to say that life at Old Trafford post Sir Alex Ferguson has been pretty damn close to disastrous.
The Scot was always going to be a hard act to follow and David Moyes and then Louis van Gaal, have proven this to be the case. In many ways the immediate seasons post-Fergie would have challenged even the best manager.
Jose Mourinho arriving now is a good thing for the self styled ‘Special One’, the pressure of having to fill unfillable boots having been neatly side-stepped (no pun intended).
A good way for Mourinho to usher in fresh era is to have a strong lieutenant on the field of play, someone who is as new to the club as himself. There is no better man for this role than Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
Manchester United have a number of strong youngsters coming through, especially in attacking roles, and having Zlatan Ibrahimovic around can only aid their progression.
Both Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford are very much ‘works in progress’ and players with genuinely world-class potential. What better way to push them on than having Zlatan around to feed off.
We are talking about a player who has won 12 domestic titles, across four countries, a forward who has scored over 400 goals for club and country and a player who is still at the top of his game.
This isn’t a player who has come to graze, to see out his career counting his millions. Zlatan Ibrahimovic was not tempted by the easy, ambition-less, temptation of a move to the Chinese Super League.
He means business. And when Zlatan Ibrahimovic means business then Premier League defences will need to be on their toes.
Whilst in age terms Eric Cantona and Zlatan Ibrahimovic are wide apart, the Frenchman being 26 years or age when he left Leeds United for Man United to Zlatan’s 34, there are definite comparisons to be made between the two and what their respective arrivals mean to the Premier League side.
Sir Alex Ferguson’s side in 1992 were on the up slope in many ways but apart from FA and UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup triumphs, the Scot had yet to deliver truly major trophies.
In Cantona’s first campaign that duck was broken. The domestic title clinched in 1992/93 was Manchester United’s first since 1967 and the rest, as they say, is history.
Cantona offered Manchester United an icon. The start of something truly remarkable.
His five seasons at the club led to four Premier League titles and let’s not forget his presence energized a young group of talents along the way, Gary Neville and David Beckham made first-team breakthroughs in Cantona’s first campaign and the following term Paul Scholes was on the scene.
Ibrahimovic could aid the likes of the aforementioned Martial and Rashford, as well as youngsters Cameron Borthwick-Jackson, Timothy Fosu-Mensah and Andreas Pereira, among others.
The future is bright
Whilst it’s true Zlatan Ibrahimovic has put pen to paper on just a short term one year contract there is every chance that the veteran could hang around for far longer.
Clearly the former Malmo, Ajax, Juventus, Inter, Barcelona, AC Milan and PSG man is in the autumn of his career but he’s a very physically fit individual and given the pace was never a strong part of his game, Zlatan Ibrahimovic could have two or three seasons in him.
Beyond a playing career Zlatan Ibrahimovic could be moved into a coaching role alongside his good friend Jose Mourinho and this, in the words of Casablanca’s Captain Louis Renault could be the start of a beautiful relationship between Jose, Zlatan and Manchester United football club.