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Why I was totally wrong about Zlatan Ibrahimovic – Opinion

first_imgtalkSPORT’s Ian Cruise explains why Manchester United’s super Swede is proving his worth, and proving his doubters completely wrong.Diego Costa is the Premier League’s top scorer and Alexis Sanchez continues to prove why Arsenal simply have to break the bank to keep him. (Or why Arsenal have to convince Arsene Wenger he has to break the bank to keep him. Anyway, you know what I mean…).Elsewhere, Sadio Mane’s sparkling form at Liverpool marks him out as one of last summer’s best bits of transfer business, while the remarkable statistic that surfaced last week showing N’Golo Kante has amassed more points since his arrival in England, with Leicester and Chelsea, than any other TEAM bears out both his contribution and importance.But still, for me, the player of the first half of the Premier League season is Zlatan Ibrahimovic. And, again for me, that has come as a surprise.I can’t have been the only one (although maybe I was?) who thought that, at the age of 35, after three years as the self-proclaimed ‘King of Paris’ bossing the less than competitive French Ligue Un, he would find the English top-flight a much tougher nut to crack and quite possibly a bridge too far.How wrong I was.Not only has he scored 13 Premier League goals so far, his all-round contribution to Manchester United has been little short of sensational.His work-rate is second to none, and the example he sets his younger team-mates surely can’t help but rub off on them. Already, despite his pre-eminence during his breakthrough season last year, you can see an improvement in Marcus Rashford, albeit in a predominantly cameo role, while Anthony Martial also seems to be rediscovering his mojo. I don’t think that’s a happy accident.Jose Mourinho clearly knew what he was getting when he signed the veteran Swede – the pair worked together at Inter Milan, of course – and his judgement in bringing him into the hurly-burly world of English football has been proven overwhelmingly correct. I don’t think any individual has been more influential on his side.His impact has been likened to that of Eric Cantona, and there’s no doubt he’s well on the way to achieving similar cult status as that attained by the mercurial but volatile Frenchman. (And if he can continue in that vein and usurp that frankly dreadful ’12 Days of Cantona’ festive terrace anthem, he will be doing us all a favour!)It’s not going to be enough for him to continue his remarkable record of winning the League title in his first season with every club he has played for, but it might just be enough to earn United a Champions League spot next season, a feat that looked highly unlikely not that many weeks ago.Mourinho has already stated publicly he intends to take up the option of keeping Ibrahimovic at Old Trafford for another year, and there’s every chance a genuine title tilt will follow next term.I certainly won’t be making the same mistake of writing him – or them – off. 1 Zlatan Ibrahimovic last_img

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