Zlatan Ibrahimovic has played a key role in steering Manchester United back into the race for Champions League qualification with 15 goals so far this season. The 35-year-old has lifted the mood at Old Trafford, but his impact at the Manchester club goes beyond just scoring goals.
He is proving an equally important asset for United off the pitch as he is on it. Being a charismatic figure and an experienced player, he leaves a strong influence on United’s younger players. He has become something of a mentor and gives valuable advice to the players.
For example, take Anthony Martial. The Frenchman has struggled to get regular games under Jose Mourinho and has often received harsh criticism publicly from his manager. Earlier this season he looked unsettled and was even linked with a move away from Old Trafford in the January transfer window.
Marcus Rashford had impressed on the left wing in United’s 3-0 win over Leicester City, and he was expected to start against Watford. Mourinho had other plans. He introduced Martial and challenged him to deliver. The youngster did deliver.
According to reports from the Times, Ibra offered Martial advice and helped him settle down his nerves during their breakfast at the Lowry Hotel on match-day mornings and at Carrington.
Ibrahimovic said, as quoted by the Times:
When we eat breakfast, he [Martial] sits beside me and we talk. It’s a good atmosphere, the guys are very professional. Positive vibes.
Martial scored his third goal in six matches as United strolled past Watford 2-0, playing some wonderful free flowing football.
Monaco to receive £8.5m for Martial’s next goal
Staying with Martial, the Frenchman’s next United goal is set to cost the club £8.5m. The 21-year-old joined United for £42.5m during the summer of 2015. Monaco had inserted several clauses into his contract and one of them is close to being activated.
The French giants are due to receive £8.5m once Martial nets his 25th goal for the Red Devils. The Frenchman scored his 24th goal at the club last week in United’s 2-0 win over Watford. The win meant United are the first club to reach 2000 points since the start of the Premier League in 1992.
Antonio Valencia: Mourinho wanted to sign me at Real Madrid
Valencia has revealed recently that Mourinho tried to sign him for Real Madrid. The Ecuadorian is enjoying a fine season at United, and has nailed down the right-back position for himself. Mourinho recently has insisted that Valencia is the best right-back in the world.