Three years into the reconstruction process and things aren’t quite up to speed at Manchester United. Amidst those frustrating years, perhaps some solace can be drawn from an FA Cup triumph and even last year’s Champions League qualification. In the grand scheme of things, however, that accounts for small wins drowning in a sea of losses. Alas! Dry land is on the horizon! Jose Mourinho has signed on as the new manager and rumour has it that a certain Zlatan Ibrahimovic will be tagging along. Many are enamoured with the Swede, given what he has achieved this season, but is he really the right move for United at this point?
If it’s one thing that can’t be debated, it’s that Ibrahimovic has had yet another fantastic season in 2015/16. Fifty goals and 16 assists in 47 club appearances is nothing short of extraordinary and at 34 years of age, Zlatan undoubtedly remains a world class player that would make virtually any team better. He possesses the physicality to ruffle the feathers of defenders wherever he goes and the creativity to conjure up chances for himself and the others around him. When you consider his record of his teams finishing first in nine of the last 10 seasons, it makes for greater confidence that a top four finish next season under the guidance of ‘The Special One’ is more or less a foregone conclusion.
These assurances come with a cost, though. To turn things swiftly around and potentially be title contenders next season, money will need to be spent… A lot of it. A familiar tone indeed, but Jose’s track record of build title-winning teams speaks for itself and one would at least expect that spending won’t be as marred in vanity as it used to be. His last year at Chelsea may have been a humongous blip on his managerial CV but it does go to show a possible side effect of not having full autonomy on your transfer targets. United would be foolish to make the same mistake but at the same time, needs to bear in mind how short term goals affect the long term ones and weigh the cost versus benefit.
It is reported that Zlatan’s arrival would result in wages north of £200,000 with a signing on fee of £8 million, despite being a free agent which covers his agent (Mino Raiola) fee. A one year contract is in tow but should the Swede extend to another year, it would cost the club at least approximately £28.8 million. One would deem that as quite the investment for such a short time when you add that figure to the number United would need to spend on other squad additions. They may have its coffers overflowing with dollars but you’d imagine there would be a point where only so much money can go down the drain.
While many would see the acquisition for what it is on the surface, the ripple effect shouldn’t be ignored. Zlatan’s signature will only serve to strengthen the club’s stance in the transfer market to lure in other top quality targets. Young talents such as Martial and especially Rashford (should Jose play him), will also be looking on and surely benefitting from having Ibrahimovic among the ranks to learn from. Maybe there’s a long term benefit after all.
At the end of the day, Manchester United is taking an expensive risk with Ibrahimovic but it’s, most importantly, one that they can than afford. Should they not qualify for the Champions League and have another sub-par season, it would be a massive loss not to mention a travesty but taking the path of least resistance doesn’t seem to be an option at this point. Old Trafford has waited long enough. There goes a saying that the greater the risk, the greater the reward, and one would be hard-pressed to find a player right now that’s more worthy to take the plunge on to quickly return United to the pinnacle of English Football.