Zlatan Ibrahimovic is playing a pivotal role in creating a friendly atmosphere in the Manchester United dressing room, manager Jose Mourinho has said, adding that the striker should not restrict his role in the squad to goalscorer.
“With Zlatan you may see someone with a big ego, big self-esteem, but it is in a positive way. When he is with the group, he is humble and friendly to everyone — integration is good,” Mourinho told MUTV.
“Zlatan is a fantastic player and, immediately in training, we could feel what I call ‘functional empathy’ — people looking to him, him looking to connect with other players.
“He is an amazing link player, an amazing player. He could be anything on the pitch, not just a goalscorer.”
Ibrahimovic joined up with the first team only recently following his arrival early this month after being given extra time off following Euro 2016, where Sweden crashed out in the first round.
The 34-year-old looks set to make his first appearance for United in his home country after he was named in the 23-man squad for Saturday’s friendly against Turkish side Galatasaray in Gothenburg.
Mourinho has already begun rebuilding at United, having signed defender Eric Bailly and midfielder Henrikh Mkhitaryan as well as Ibrahimovic and, according to media reports, is nearing the capture of Juventus midfielder Paul Pogba.
The 53-year-old Portuguese was confident his new recruits would not take long to adapt to the rigours of the Premier League as they did not have any language barriers with their team mates.
“Zlatan and Henrikh are fluent in English and in many other languages. They are good guys and experienced guys,” the former Chelsea and Real Madrid manager said.
“Eric doesn’t speak English too well. But he speaks French and Spanish which makes it an easy position in this squad with all his team mates who speak those languages. He is coming up, step by step.”
Mourinho will mark his return to England’s top flight when he takes United to Bournemouth for their first game of the league season on Aug. 14.