José Mourinho has indicated for the first time that Zlatan Ibrahimovic is set to leave Manchester United at the end of the season.
The Swede is not match fit following a setback in his return from the serious knee injury suffered against Anderlecht in April last year. Ibrahimovic, who scored 28 times last season, did make a comeback, featuring in seven games between late-November and Boxing Day, when he was taken off at half-time against Burnley.
“Zlatan – we all think it’s his last season at Manchester United and will be a very personal decision for him to play or to stop,” Mourinho said of the 36-year-old.
“He has earned the right of choosing his life, his future – he is such an amazing player and had such an amazing career that only that awful injury in the wrong moment broke a fantastic couple of seasons he could and should have with us.
“This season is really difficult for him – he’s not injured. Does he feel totally happy, ready and convinced he’s in condition to help the team? No. But he’s such an honest guy and such a champion he only wants to be back with that feeling of: ‘I’m totally ready for it.’
“So he’s working hard and hopefully his evolution brings him to that level – he wants to have a positive answer.”
The future of Marouane Fellaini, who is out of contract, in the summer remains in doubt. “Fellaini is a different story. He’s still a young player , for his knee injury he had a little surgery but minor. He will be back to play again in a couple of weeks so if we proceed in the Champions League after Sevilla, he will be ready for a hypothetical quarter-final [in early April], a hypothetical FA Cup semi-final, for the last couple of months of our Premier League fight.
“Is he going to stay or leave? I don’t know. I want him to stay, the club want him to stay. The process, negotiations, numbers, distances between the offer and what he wants, I really don’t know.”
Mourinho said he was not aware whether the England manager, Gareth Southgate, was meeting Scott McTominay on Friday with regard to the midfielder’s international future. The 21-year-old is also wanted by Scotland.
“I don’t know if that is true,” Mourinho said. “I can’t confirm because I have no information about that and my advice to him is not about national teams. My advice is to keep the way he is: very humble, very open to learn, intelligent. And keep going in the same direction – trying to fight to have minutes with Manchester United, which is not easy.
“Then national team will be just a consequence of his work at the club but I can’t confirm at all that both national teams have contacted him.”
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