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Ibra-magic: Zlatan remain top class at advanced age

Despite his age, and the wear and tear on his body, opponents still find it hard to calm and weather the raging storm that is Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

Teams have been trying to for years, but only a few have succeeded in stifling the great Zlatan.

Playing in his age-35 season, Ibrahimovic is considered well beyond his prime but he is still one of the cornerstones of Jose Mourinho’s rebuilding project in Manchester United, and it is hard to argue with the results.

Since joining the Red Devils last summer, the prolific frontman has amassed a team-high 28 goals in 45 appearances, including 17 strikes in 28 Premier League wins. He also leads the club in scoring in the Europa League, where he has five goals in 10 apps.

In the 28 Premier League games that Zlatan played for United, the Old Trafford side has won 15 and lost only thrice, for a winning percentage of 53.5%. In the 15 games he scored in, they won nine and lost only once. In the three games that he’s missed, the club won only once.

Currently, Ibra is in a three-way tie in fourth with Chelsea’s Diego Costa and Manchester City’s Sergio Aguero in the EPL topscorer’s list, which is led by Everton’s Romelu Lukaku with 24. Tottenham’s Harry Kane has 20 and Arsenal’s Alexis Sanchez has 19.

ONE OF ONE

Zlatan is a rare player, a unique specimen we may never see again. He is listed at 195cm (6-foot-4) and weighs 95kg (209 lbs), so he towers above most defenders and no one can bully him for position. To make his mold more wondrous, he has incredible guile for a man his size and length.

Unfortunately for him, the lab where he was created in was in Sweden, and his teammates in national football do not possess the same caliber as Ibrahimovic. If he was born in Brazil, or Argentina, or Germany or Portugal, we would have appreciated his talents more.

Imagine if Zlatan had the scary midfield of Germany feeding him at the front, or if he is spearheading Brazil’s wonderful attacks, it’s hard not to think he would have lifted a World Cup trophy then.

CURTAIN CALL

At least for Zlatan, he can spend the tail-end of his career teaming up with Mourinho and the Portuguese’s plans to revive United and bring the club back to its former glory. It will be a fitting challenge for a player of Zlatan’s statute.

Former managers David Moyes and Louis Van Gaal ran the United ship aground after long-time manager Alex Ferguson retired. Now, Mou and Ibra are working hard to get it ready for sailing again, and even detractors will not deny that the two are successful at it.

Under Van Gaal last season, United reaped 53 points after 31 games. This season, the Red Devils have already earned 60 with the same number of games.

Last year, United got kicked out in the round of 16 in the Europa League. But they are on pace to win the second-most premier European club tourney.

United resume their Europa League campaign as they host Anderlecht at Old Trafford, where the Red Devils won their past three games in the competition.

And with Zlatan, who was only a sub in United’s win over Chelsea, expected to start the fixture, don’t count out an easy victory for the Red Devils.

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