There already have been plenty of rumours that Manchester United star Zlatan Ibrahimovic will leave Old Trafford after this Premier League season because the 35-year-old is nearing the end of his career and wants to add another league title or two to his collection. As things stand now, Manchester United don’t appear likely to challenge for Premier League title any time soon.
In the wake of a three-game ban given to Ibrahimovic, perhaps United won’t want him back. That’s surely not true, but missing two crucial league matches could not only cost Ibrahimovic a shot at leading the Premier League in goals but Man U a chance at top-four finish in the league and the 2017/18 Champions League spot that goes with it. The Red Devils are currently 13/8 on football odds to finish in the top four. For the top online sports betting sites visit Casino Pros.
Ibrahimovic has accepted a charge of violent conduct and thus will serve a three-match ban. He caught Bournemouth defender Tyrone Mings with his elbow before half-time of United's 1-1 draw at Old Trafford on March 4. Ibrahimovic had been stomped on by Mings before retaliating. The referee missed both actions in real time. Mings said he had not deliberately stamped on Ibrahimovic's head but also was charged with violent conduct by the Football Association. Ibrahimovic said Mings had "jumped into" his elbow.
On the bright side, disciplinary action is only applicable to domestic fixtures so Ibrahimovic was able to face FC Rostov in the Europa League last 16 on March 9. However, he missed the FA Cup quarterfinal against Chelsea on March 13 and also will sit out Premier League games at Middlesbrough on March 19 and at home to West Brom on April 1. The striker's first game back will be Everton’s visit on April 4.
Ibrahimovic is United's top goal-scorer this season with 15 in 25 Premier League games and 26 goals in 35 appearances in all competitions. He is their only scorer in double figures and had been 14/1 on Casino Pros football odds to be the league’s leading goal-scorer but likely wouldn’t be able to catch favored and current Harry Kane (10/11) of Tottenham after missing two matches. Ibrahimovic had missed only one league game all season up to this point, the draw with Arsenal in November. One of Wayne Rooney, Marcus Rashford or Anthony Martial will be called on to lead the attack in Ibrahimovic’s absence.
Manchester United signed Ibrahimovic on a free transfer last summer from Paris Saint-Germain. It reunited him with manager Jose Mourinho, having worked with the Portuguese during their time together at Serie A side Inter Milan. Ibrahimovic signed a one-year deal at Old Trafford, and he has the option to extend for a further season. Many reports are that Ibrahimovic is stalling on signing a new contract so he can return to Serie A. Ibrahimovic’s agent Mino Raiola has suggested the Swede could be interested in ending his career with Serie A side Napoli.
With Ibrahimovic missing those two league games, the Red Devils’ best chance to qualify for next season’s Champions League could be through the Europa League. United are 2/1 favourites to win that competition. The winner enters at least at the playoff round for the Champions League.