Jos Mourinho admits that losing Zlatan Ibrahimovic to a long-term injury would be disastrous but he has no plans to buy an experienced goalscorer as cover in January
Jos Mourinho admits that losing Zlatan Ibrahimovic to a long-term injury would be a disaster, yet the Manchester United manager has no plans to buy an experienced goalscorer in January as cover for the Swede.
Ibrahimovic is Uniteds leading marksman by some distance, his 17 goalsadding to the 33 for his previous club, Paris Saint-Germain, in 2016 to leave his total at 50 one behind Lionel Messis highest of 51 this calendar year. As the Barcelona forward is on a winter break in Spain, Ibrahimovic can end the year as the top scorer in Europe by registering two against Middlesbrough at Old Trafford on New Years Eve.
United have won their past four Premier League games and Ibrahimovic has scored four times in the most recent three, with 11 in the past 10 games in all competitions. Of Uniteds 27 league goals Ibrahimovic has 12 and his total of 17 accounts for more than a third of the teams tally of 49. Mourinho is clear regarding how difficult it would be should the 35-year-old be injured for any length of time: A disaster obviously a disaster but thats football..
Wayne Rooney, who will miss Middlesbroughs visit because of a muscle problem, has scored only three times, while Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial have four each. Asked if a proven Premier League goalscorer might be added in next months window, Mourinho said: No. We are not going to do that. We have Zlatan, Rooney, Rashford and Martial, who can also be a No9 in a different style.
We have a squad of 24 players. I know weve a lot of competitions to play but where is the striker to come here with that quality to play for United? Where is that striker, where the club can let him come? Thats not something for the January market. Its probably something for the summer.
Mourinho is impressed that Ibrahimovic could break Messis 2016 mark. In Spain Messi and Cristiano [Ronaldo, who has 42] have a lot of penalties to score. They are phenomenal players with lots of penalties to score goals. Here Zlatan has 18 matches and one penalty. Its not so easy to score goals.
The manager also explained why Memphis Depay has been given little opportunity this season. The Dutchman has managed only 124 minutes in eight appearances and been linked with moves to clubs including Everton and Fenerbahce. He was not playing last season [much either], Mourinho said. It was not that last season he was playing phenomenally and this season he is not playing at all. Thats not the situation.
I have to say that in the past couple of months my decisions in relation to Memphis were influenced by the feelings and information that he would like to leave in January and that we were going to have a real offer that we would be willing to accept. That obviously influences me.
If I know, if I have the feeling that a player is leaving, if I have to give chances and develop other players, then I go to Lingard, Mkhitaryan, Martial, the players I know 100% are going to stay with us. It is a position where we have more options.
Mourinho, however, insists there is no problem with Depays approach. Hes a very good professional is the only thing I can say. I know the public image is always influenced by some details of their private lives but the reality is that he is a very good professional, a very good boy. He has a high level of education, super polite, super professional, and works really hard. But its a position where I have Martial, Mkhitaryan, Mata, Lingard plus Rooney and Rashford who can also play in this position. So we have six, seven players. But if we arrive in January and nothing happens and we have lots of matches then if he is going to be my player until the end of the season I will help him and he will be useful for us.