Former Manchester United midfielder and MUTV pundit Paddy Crerand has backed Zlatan Ibrahimovic to beat Lionel Messi to the title of 2016’s top goalscorer.
The Swede, since joining in July, has netted 17 goals under Jose Mourinho – already equalling the total acquired by Man United’s top-goalscorer (Anthony Martial) last season.
Ibrahimovic requires two goals against Middlesbrough – United’s last game of 2016 – to eclipse Messi’s total of 51 goals in 2016.
And Crerand, speaking earlier this week, believes that Zlatan will do just that.
“He’ll do that,” he said. “If you ask anyone who’s the best player in the world they would probably say Messi and his feat shows he’s the equal of him.
“I must admit I didn’t realise just how good he is, but seeing him every week, he’s just incredible.
“What I like about him is his intelligence, his football brain. His fitness levels are unbelievable and I just wish he was 25!
“He must be a pleasure to play with and for someone who is a midfield player, to have him playing in front of you with his imagination, must be tremendous.”
Only Ruud van Nistelrooy can better Ibrahimovic’s 12 goals from his first 17 Premier League games for United and Crerand, who played with Denis Law and George Best in their pomp, says the Swede’s achievement is better.
“If you look at when Ruud joined United, he was fortunate to play with some of the very best players ever to play for the club,” said the 1968 European Cup winner.
“Some of the current players may become the equal of them, but for Zlatan to have 17 goals already is a phenomenal achievement.”
You’re probably reading this and thinking: “wow, 50 goals in a calendar year – that’s impressive!”
Now consider this: Messi once scored 91 goals in a year. Ninety one. In one year. That kind of domination shouldn’t he allowed.
The fact that Zlatan, even at the age of 35, remains on a par with Messi – widely regarded as the best player of our generation, with some labelling him as the best player of all time – serves as a true testament to his sustained brilliance over the years, and United fans will be desperate to see him beat the Argentine’s total on Saturday.