Zlatan Ibrahimovic has been doing his best to power the rumour mill single-handedly in recent days, issuing forth gales of gossip-inducing hot air in the direction of its slowly-circling sails.
Asked, in the wake of Paris Saint-Germain’s 2-1 Champions League win over Chelsea, if he would like to play in the Premier League before he retires, Ibrahimovic responded cryptically, “Let’s just say I am in shape.”
If that hadn’t been enough to pique the interest of Manchester United fans, then his observation that Jose Mourinho should have been at the Parc des Princes (underlining a long-time mutual respect between them) must have had Reds blue-sky thinking about an Old Trafford reunion for the pair.
The 34-year-old won Serie A under the Portuguese, 1/5 favourite in the next Man Utd manager betting, during their time together at Inter in 2008/09 and spoke last year of their bond:
“We worked together for one year at Inter. The feeling was great between us and my only regret is that we were together for only one year.”
However, although signing the Swedish totem would be an enormous coup from an international media presence standpoint, his arrival at Old Trafford could prove disastrous from a footballing perspective.
The sheer magnitude of both Ibrahimovic’s personality and his footballing gifts means that he doesn’t feel comfortable with anything other than complete subordination from his teammates.
His curtailed time at Barcelona, where he was irked by sharing the limelight with Lionel Messi, was a case in point.
There are pundits, such as the Guardian’s Barney Ronay, who have begun to raise the possibility that his current employers, PSG, might be a better side if shunning the imperative that Zlatan be the focal point around which their attacks revolve.
United are a club struggling for an identity in the post-Sir-Alex-Ferguson era and bringing in a player who demands that the soul of his team assumes his own identity, for what can only be a matter of a couple of seasons, seems immensely counter-productive.