Paul Pogba has made it clear that Zlatan Ibrahimovic remains an integral aspect of the Manchester United squad despite being officially released from the club last month.
The Swede was released from the club after suffering a knee ligament injury against Anderlecht in April that could see him sidelined until the new year.
However, Zlatan has remained at Carrington to observe his recovery process and could, according to reports, receive a short term contract in January if Jose Mourinho needs him.
And Pogba, speaking at a press conference ahead of Man United’s clash with Barcelona on Wednesday night, insisted that the 35-year-old was still very much part of the team.
“Obviously Zlatan is a leader, always a big leader, and he’s a big leader because he’s still in the team, even he’s not playing he’s a leader outside of the pitch,” he said.
“I’ve been playing for one season, I came here to hopefully be a leader in the team and that’s not like the objective but that’s how you should be, I’ve been here, we won, and you want to grow up as a player and a leader as well.
“I can learn from him, from Carras, all the other players and become a leader.”
We can bicker over what impact Zlatan’s presence had on the side’s overall shape going forward last year. Perhaps somebody with more instinct running in behind would have helped those around him. Who knows?
What nobody can disagree on, however, is that Ibrahimovic’s presence helped to engender a fiercer, bolder, more assured mindset moving forward. It was contagious – that looming, seething figure of dominance, growing larger and larger with every goal, a demigod kind of feel to the way he conducted himself.
He is a truly special, irreplaceable presence, and supporters will be glad to see that, in spite of his injury, he remains at the epicentre of the squad.