Manchester United coach Louis van Gaal has conceded that Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s age could be a stumbling block for the club this summer.
The 34-year-old is expected to become a free agent as his contract with Paris Saint-Germain expires in July. In turn, it has sparked significant speculation about his future, with a whole host of clubs around the world linked with making an offer for his services.
United were believed to have been involved in that pursuit, but Van Gaal has suggested that he may not look to sign the Swedish international, despite his inspirational play this year.
“We need to improve our selection [squad], because when I took over we had six or seven players above 33 years old,” he said in an interview with Viasat. “Nobody knows that anymore because now they are gone. But now we have a much younger team and still we need a much younger selection because we need creative players in attack and also fast players.
“I like [our] own youth players more because they already know the culture in Manchester United, and that is also the philosophy for example of Ajax or Barcelona and also Bayern Munich.”
Van Gaal paid a major compliment to his former player by insisting that “PSG are Zlatan”, and although he refused to entirely rule out the possibility of signing him, it sounds unlikely given his transfer strategy and vision for the club since arriving at Old Trafford.
Ibrahimovic has scored 39 goals and provided 16 assists in 42 appearances in all competitions so far this season, and having already captured the Ligue 1 title, he will be desperate to add the Champions League to his collection this year.
While retirement, a contract renewal and a lucrative move to an inferior market are all options available to him this summer, he would certainly be a welcome addition to the Premier League.
United are seemingly the best choice for him given that Manchester City aren’t on the table ahead of Pep Guardiola’s arrival, while Chelsea and Arsenal have options and rely on youth respectively.
Van Gaal makes a valid point and his work is seemingly paying dividends with the likes of Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford enjoying extended runs in his side, but Ibrahimovic’s arrival would undoubtedly transform them into contenders both at home and abroad next season.