Michael Owen believes Zlatan Ibrahimovic has lost his negotiating power with Manchester United as he heads into negotiations over a new contract after suffering a severe knee injury against Anderlecht in the Europa League.
The 2001 Ballon d'Or winner's own career was plagued by knee injuries, particularly during his spell with Newcastle United, but he was ultimately able to continue with Manchester United on a pay-as-you-play deal.
Jose Mourinho has admitted United may look to sign someone to replace Ibrahimovic in the summer due to the severity of his injury. BT Sport’s football expert,Owen admits that it is a sad picture for the Swede, who has scored 17 Premier League goals.
"It is worrying, upsetting for him," Owen told Goal. "At his age it isn’t ideal, if you look at it from his career or financial point of view or anything like that, he has gone from being in the most powerful situation, everybody wanting him.
"As he is available for free at the end of the season. To all of a sudden that’s reversed. Now he might not be wanted as much anymore, let’s hope he can get a contract even if he is out for a period next season. It is a strange dynamic and I feel sorry for him right now."
Owen believes United could be ruthless and only sign him if the 35-year-old if he is fit for next term, but points out that keeping him could help Marcus Rashford develop into their next star striker.
"I think it all depends on how long his is going to be out," he added. "If he is fit from the start of the season, then I would say re-sign him because then he and Rashford could continue as they have been doing. In the long run, it gives Rashford the chance to become Manchester United’s centre forward."
The Red Devils have had a plethora of notable absentees, with Marcos Rojo, Marouane Fellaini, Paul Pogba, Phil Jones, Chris Smalling, Juan Mata and Timothy Fosu-Mensah all injured or suspended in recent matches.
However, Owen doesn't agree with Mourinho's complaints that they face an "unfair fight" for the top four, having played 18 more games than Liverpool. The former England international insists the squad should be able to cope with the workload, just as Sir Alex Ferguson's sides did every season.
"It is not necessarily unfair. If you look down the list of 20 or more players in the United squad and they will be on far higher wages, of far higher quality than virtually any other team in the country so Manchester United and the Champions League teams should be able to cope.
"That’s why they are in the competitions they are. They have the big squads to go far, the others have 15 or so good players and the rest can be kids. Man United have such depth of talent and they always have done.
"Jose Mourinho is in no different of a situation to Alex Ferguson, who probably used less players 15 years ago. They were getting to finals in everything, so, no, I think that’s why they have these squads. That’s why their wage bill is bigger than everyone else’s, so they can cope."
United face Swansea City on Sunday afternoon and Owen says the fact his former club's opponents have so much to play for means a win won't be easy to come by.
"Yes, it is [tougher than it looks]," he continued. "You expect at this time of year to have one or two games where the other team has nothing to play for but this is massive for both ends of the table.
"Swansea have done great since Paul Clement came in and I feel sorry for them, in a way because they have had such a good run, but because Hull have done so well they are still in the relegation zone.
"I think that it is huge for both teams, Swansea and United both need a results. It is quite rare at this time of the season for so many teams to have so much going on."
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