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How Man Utd could line up with Ibrahimovic

Zlatan Ibrahimovic brought an end to a long saga on Thursday when he confirmed that he will join Manchester United this summer.

Goal revealed in May that United's decision-makers had prepared a deal worth a potential £34 million to the front man, who left Paris Saint-Germain at the end of last season after collecting four Ligue 1 titles in as many years.

And Ibrahimovic confirmed on Instagram that he will feature in the Premier League next term, stating that his next destination will indeed be the Old Trafford club.

That announcement was then echoed by the Red Devils the next day, as they revealed it was "Zlatan Time" at Old Trafford. 

While a reunion with his former Inter coach Jose Mourinho has seemed imminent for some time, the question remains: where might he line up in the United starting XI? Goal looks at some of the options available to Mourinho with Ibra added to the current squad.


United often played with a 4-3-3 towards the end of the season under Louis van Gaal before the Dutchman was shown the door, but while it couldn't rescue their campaign it did appear to allow a little more freedom amongst their forward players.

However, the injection of Ibrahimovic would give them a more natural focal point in the centre of their attack. While Anthony Martial likes to run at players from around the edge of the box and rumoured signing Henrikh Mkitaryan is a clinical finisher in the last 12 yards, the former Inter and Milan forward has the kind of ability with his back to goal that neither of his younger counterparts consider a strength.

Such a move may well end Wayne Rooney's career as a front line striker, with his recent form in midfield suggesting he could have a future at the heart of operations rather than in his traditional slot either as a front man or just off the main striker.


If it is decided that Wayne Rooney's place in a Jose Mourinho Manchester United side is in midfield then a 4-2-3-1 may well be the favoured option of the Portuguese.

Such a decision would allow Ibrahimovic to perform the role which he has played for the vast majority of his professional career while also making space for the England captain in behind the Swede. It may well compromise other players, particularly Marcus Rashford, who would find himself either on the right-hand side of the attack or on the bench.

This shape would also take away the extra body in midfield which has helped to reinforce a previously rocky United engine room in recent times, although additions of more tough-tackling alternatives to Michael Carrick, Morgan Schneiderlin and Bastian Schweinsteiger may be sought as a way to employ the 4-2-3-1 without leaving United short on numbers across the middle.


The need for reinforcements in midfield could see Mourinho revert to a 4-3-1-2, allowing Rooney to start higher up the field without taking anything away from the defensive side of the team.

One major issue with starting Ibrahimovic and Martial ahead of Rooney would be the lack of opportunities for Rashford, but either a loan spell or a free rein in Europa League fixtures might well be deemed a better education for the young front man in such a situation.

With Ibra now approaching his 35th birthday, it may be beneficial to get more bodies around him doing a lot of his former leg work. And while this is probably the least favoured of the three options, having Martial working off the big man's ability to hold up the ball and occupy defenders would be a quite terrifying prospect for opponents.