Zlatan Ibrahimovic has insisted that Manchester United belong in the Champions League but expressed a desire to add the Europa League to his already bulging trophy cabinet.
The Swede, since making his senior debut in 1999, has claimed 31 trophies throughout his career, netting 400 goals in the process.
Man United placed one foot in the next round after sealing an emphatic 4-0 win over Feyenoord on match-day five, meaning that a point away to Zorya Luhansk would be enough to guarantee Jose Mourinho’s men a place in the last 32.
Ibrahimovic, speaking to BT Sport after the game, expressed his desire to add a Europa League trophy to his trophy cabinet.
“I want to win everything I play for, I mean you don’t know me personally but when I go in training I don’t accept to lose, I don’t like to lose, I’ll do everything to win,” he said.
“We play in the Europa League, I think the team belongs in the Champions League but it is what it is, and we will do everything to win it. I have a lot of medals, a lot, and I want more, you know what, I have a very big house… there I keep them.
“That [the Europa League] would fit very good, there is also a place for that trophy.”
Just imagine the size of Ibrahimovic’s trophy cabinet. Take into consideration that Zlatan, a serial winner, probably keeps his individual honours as well. He probably has to rent another house.
But in all seriousness, the Europa League – often viewed as a worthless, ultimately distracting competition – does serve as an opportunity for both silverware and a place in next season’s Champions League. Mourinho takes this competition seriously, and so does Zlatan.
And United’s European home record this season – three games, three wins, nine goals scored and just one conceded (the fewest out of any European side this season) – gives them an excellent opportunity to eat up ground in this competition. The only thing holding them back – crucially – is their woeful record on the road. Two games, two losses, with United’s last win on the road in Europe dating back to December 2013 – almost three years ago.
One feels that Mourinho’s men need to seal an emphatic win in Ukraine on match-day six if they are to be considered as genuine challengers for this year’s Europa League.