Matthew Ashton – AMA/Getty Images
Manchester United striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic will reportedly miss the rest of the season as a result of the knee injury he suffered against Anderlecht in the Europa League on Thursday.
According to Sky Sports News HQ, the veteran forward has played his last match of the 2016-17 campaign:
Sky Sports News HQ @SkySportsNewsHQ
BREAKING: @ManUtd forward @Ibra_official unlikely to play again this season due to knee injury sustained against Anderlecht – sources #SSNHQ https://t.co/1Dm8cI7v3A
4/21/2017, 3:01:22 PM
The Daily Mail also reported that the 35-year-old’s season was over.
Ibrahimovic sustained the knee problem late in normal time in the quarter-final and was stretchered off the field to be replaced by Anthony Martial.
Ibrahimovic landed awkwardly after going in for a challenge, with his knee appearing to hyperextend. After the contest, which United eventually won 2-1 in extra time (3-2 on aggregate), manager Jose Mourinho said the situation was looking “fairly negative” for the Swede.
Having netted 17 goals and laid on five assists in the Premier League this season, Ibrahimovic would be a massive loss to the Red Devils.
OLI SCARFF/Getty Images
The striker has taken to the English game superbly, showcasing his power, technique and quality in the penalty box frequently. Given United have some key clashes to come in Europe and domestically between now and the end of the season, his absence will be felt.
There has been some speculation about Ibrahimovic potentially moving on in the summer, with new Major League Soccer franchise Los Angeles FC said to be willing to offer the striker a seasonal salary of £5 million to move to the United States, according to the Daily Mail‘s Ian Ladyman.
Bleacher Report’s Rob Blanchette is hoping that we get to see the mercurial forward in United colours again:
Rob B. @_Rob_B
If that’s all she wrote for Zlatan at #MUFC, it’s been fun and an honour to see him in our shirt. https://t.co/WkTismHPwG
4/20/2017, 10:52:51 PM
United don’t have a direct replacement for Ibrahimovic in the form of a target man, meaning Mourinho will need to change his approach between now and the end of the campaign.
A glimpse into that blueprint may have come in the recent 2-0 win over Chelsea, when Jesse Lingard and Marcus Rashford linked up as part of a fluid front two. The latter, in particular, has returned to form as of late, netting in his last three games for the Red Devils.
Catherine Ivill – AMA/Getty Images
While the prospect of Rashford leading the line for the final weeks of the season will excite the Old Trafford crowd, Ibrahimovic’s big-game temperament would have been useful.
With visits to Burnley, Arsenal, Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester City to come in the Premier League, as well as a two-legged Europa League semi-final against Celta Vigo, the talismanic forward would have been an asset to United.
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