Jose Mourinho has addressed the dilemma up front involving Romelu Lukaku and Zlatan Ibrahimovic, noting that he will need both at different stages of the season.
The Portuguese made Lukaku his second signing of the summer back in July and the Belgian has made a storming start to life at Old Trafford, claiming four goals in three games.
And the club has announced this week that Ibrahimovic, released from the club in June, had signed a new deal with Man United ahead of a return to action by the new year.
When asked how exactly Zlatan’s return will impact on United’s attacking play and Lukaku’s position, Mourinho was keen to note that the Swede will serve as an important additional option during the business end of the campaign.
“In this moment they can speak on the phone that is all they can do, not even face-to-face because he [Ibrahimovic]’s not here,” he said.
“If we progress in the Champions League and if we progress in one of the two cups, I don’t even say both, if we do that we are going to be in the position where we couldn’t do it only with Lukaku and Rashford, especially if I play both together because if I play one and the other one is on the bench, okay, but I am playing with both?
“So if I play with both, I need a striker, so probably in January I would be knocking on Ed Woodward’s door asking for a striker for the second part of the season and I don’t need to. I have one of the best in the world. I don’t have another one to play so I cannot give rest to my players, I cannot do rotation with them like I am going to do with the midfield players or the central defenders or with the wingers.
“So we need a striker and we have one striker just around the corner that belongs to our family, that likes to be with us ad play for us. We know well and he is one of the best strikers in the world so the only consequence of it is we are going to have a much better squad.”
How Zlatan’s reintroduction will impact on the United side has been an elephant in the room for some time.
For all of the 35-year-old’s brilliance, there is a notable feeling amongst supporters that Mourinho, under any circumstances, cannot change the current attacking dynamic that has seen his side claim eight goals in two games so far this season. And Lukaku’s direct, powerful style is indispensable to this new mould going forward. Zlatan’s introduction cannot engender any deviation away from this strategy.
And it doesn’t seem like it will. The Swede, after all, will be 36 by the time he returns and still recovering from a lengthy spell on the sidelines. How potent he will be remains to be seen. Mourinho will not, you sense, see the Swede as his side’s attacking mouthpiece, but rather as a truly exceptional trump card when his side requires something different in attack.