The curiously durable love between Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Manchester United could yet be rekindled, according to reports today. Zlatan is 37 and is playing in the MLS with LA Galaxy, but has been linked with a loan move in January during the MLS close season. AC Milan have been mentioned as potential suitors for the Swede, and now ESPN are flagging the possibility that Ibrahimovic returns to Old Trafford at least for a portion of this season.
Zlatan scored 29 goals in 53 appearances for United, but 28 of those came in his first season before it was curtailed by a serious knee injury suffered in the Europa League.
While it is highly doubtful whether Ibrahimovic could make any kind of impact on the field were he to return this season, ESPN say that Jose Mourinho may covet his influence in the dressing room.
Yet the value of him returning to Old Trafford would not be measured in goals by Mourinho. The true worth of Ibrahimovic to the under-pressure Mourinho would be the Swede's influence in in the dressing room.
To some at United, it is not a coincidence that disharmony within the squad has become an issue since Ibrahimovic moved away.
It appears that the players in the United dressing room have become exasperated and alienated by Mourinho's divisive and confrontational style of management. Zlatan, it is reported, was respected by fellow members of the dressing room and also acted as a buffer between the players and Mourinho.
The ESPN report says that Zlatan was viewed as a "cool older brother" by Pogba et al.
While we don't doubt that Zlatan would be a good influence in the dressing room, if Ed Woodward deemed Toby Alderwireld (29) too old to sign, we are sceptical as to whether they will take another gamble on Ibrahimovic, even if it is on loan.