Zlatan Ibrahimovic 'the signing of the season by far,' says former Manchester United player Owen Hargreaves

Ibrahimovic joined United on a free transfer from PSG, but has not scored in his last four Premier league matches

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The Independent Football

Owen Hargeaves has made the somewhat peculiar suggestion that Manchester United’s Zlatan Ibrahimovic has been the signing of the season so far in the Premier League, despite not scoring a goal in his last four league matches.

The Swede made a lightning start to his United career, scoring three goals in his first two league matches as well as netting the winner in the Community Shield victory over Leicester City. However, he has not scored in the top flight since the 2-1 derby defeat by Manchester City on 10 September, and his only goal since then came in the lacklustre 1-0 victory over Zorya Ludansk in the Europa League where United should have eased to a comfortable victory.

Ibrahimovic struggled again on Monday night as United drew 0-0 with Liverpool, with the former Paris Saint-Germain striker regularly isolated as his support dropped deep to keep Liverpool’s attacking-minded midfield at bay. He also did his fair share of defending, picking up a yellow card for a late foul on Emre Can.

His only moment of note in the Anfield stalemate came when he managed to head Antonio Valencia’s perfect cross wide of the goal, and it subsequently cost United two extra points as the late effort would most likely have gone on to clinch victory for the visitors.

Yet despite his recent dip in form, BT Sport pundit Hargreaves insists that he has been the best signing of the summer when you take into account that he joined on a free transfer and arrived with the reputation of a world class finisher.

“The signing of the season by far has been Zlatan Ibrahimovic,” Hargreaves said on BT Sport.

 


“To get him on a free transfer – and a player of that quality. I wouldn’t like to know where Manchester United would be without Zlatan Ibrahimovic.”

From a cost point of few, it is easier to agree with Hargreaves given that Ibrahimovic would have commanded no more than his wages, signing-on fee and an agent fee that went to Mino Raiola. But looking at his return, it does raise the question of what Hargreaves has seen over the last month. Had Ibrahimovic not signed for United in the summer, United would be three points worse off in the league given they would not have the victory over Southampton in which he scored twice.

However, his striker against Manchester City proved a consolation, and both Juan Mata and Wayne Rooney had already scored by the time he added the third in the 3-1 win over Bournemouth.

The likes of Steven Defour, Joe Allen, and Georginio Wijnaldum at Burnley, Stoke and Liverpool respectively have arguably had more impact in their teams so far this season. Defour has proven a driving force in the Burnley midfield and has contributed three assists for his teammates as well as scoring the goal that secured a point against Hull last month, while Allen has netted four times since moving to Stoke that has single-handedly earned the Potters five points this season.

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Joe Allen has won more points for Stoke tha Ibrahimovic has for United (Getty)

Wijnaldum meanwhile has slotted seamlessly into the Liverpool midfield and was part of the sides that took apart Leicester, Chelsea and Hull in consecutive matches. Furthermore, his absence in the draw with United – along with Adam Lallana’s – had a negative effect on Jurgen Klopp’s side as they were noticeably below-par on Monday night.

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