Zlatan Ibrahimovic will prove invaluable to a Manchester United squad that Jose Mourinho believes he has picked up off the floor.
Jose Mourinho believes Zlatan Ibrahimovic will prove to be a “phenomenal” acquisition for Manchester United after the Swedish star marked his Premier League debut with a superb goal in the 3-1 win at Bournemouth.
A week on from heading the winner in a 2-1 Community Shield triumph over Leicester City at Wembley, Ibrahimovic drilled home a superb long-range strike to conclude United’s scoring in a routine victory at the Vitality Stadium.
The goal means the 34-year-old has now scored on his maiden appearances in the Champions League, Serie A, LaLiga, Ligue 1 and the English top flight.
Despite playing in the era of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, Mourinho is astonished a player of Ibrahimovic’s talents does not have a Ballon d’Or to his name but he insists the forward he first coached at Inter is focused on collective and not individual glory.
“It’s incredible how Zlatan Ibrahimovic has never won the Golden Ball,” Mourinho told BBC Sport. “He wants to win the Premier League, not the Golden Ball.”
Comparisons between Ibrahimovic and the similarly enigmatic ex-Old Trafford terrace hero Eric Cantona will become more prevalent if the former can prolong his early scoring run, but Mourinho feels such talk is not overly relevant.
“Different times, different ages,” he said. “Eric Cantona was here at the best moment in his career.
“This guy [Ibrahimovic] is more than a player. For the next two seasons I think he can be phenomenal for the team and the Premier League.”
Mourinho still has world-record signing Paul Pogba to add to his line-up after the France international served a one-match suspension holding over from his time with Juventus this weekend.
A well-stocked squad left behind by Louis van Gaal was not in high spirits, according to Mourinho, when he took the reins during pre-season but he is happy with the progress he has seen and believes the majority have a part to play.
“Paul Pogba is very good, he’s a phenomenal player. Our idea is that he will be a very important player for us,” he said.
“In August it can be frustrating for players not in the team, because it’s one game a week. But in September we have the League Cup, the Europa League starts and there’s international games.
“It’s a real marathon and then there’s space for everyone. That’s why we have such a good squad.”
Mourinho added: “I met a sad squad on my first day, a squad not happy with their situation. But I found immediately a team who want to work and win matches and titles, as well as making fans proud.”