Yes, comparing Zlatan Ibrahimovic to any player is a sin in his eyes, but by all accounts, his impact has been similar to Cantona’s.
Ibrahimovic has brought back swagger and arrogance to a Manchester United side that has been fragile the past couple years.
With 26 goals to his name this season, he has proven that age is nothing but a number, as class is permanent.
While continuing to show the same class and finesse he has shown throughout his career, Ibra has become a hero amongst United fans.
“6 foot 5, hard as fuck, he gets the reds excited,” is a chant created by the fans for their hero.
Not only has he been a prolific scorer, but he also averages 1.8 key passes per game, which is behind Pogba, who averages 2 himself, per WhoScored.com
His ability to hold the ball up front and allow wingers to run passed him has been important for United’s offense.
With ample space to make runs, Henrikh Mkhitaryan has been allowed to flourish playing on either wing, thanks in part to Ibra’s game.
But while the seasoned Swede has been effective in that regard, he’s also had trouble keeping possession of the ball.
He averages 2.2 unsuccessful touches per game and has a subpar 73.7 percent pass accuracy, per WhoScored.com.
This has also leads to a stagnated offense for the Red Devils, because with a lack of passing and pace, the teams ends up seeing less ball movement going forward, which leads to less chances created.
Nonetheless, it doesn’t take away from Ibrahimovic’s world-class poaching in the box. He will continue to be lethal in that area throughout his time in Manchester.
As long as United have him to feed in the box, they will continue to get goals in key moments this season, and potentially next season as well.
But, Zlatan’s importance to this United team isn’t only on the pitch.
Ibrahimovic has become a mentor and an example of excellence for the young players on the team.
Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial, two players who should be part of the squad for years to come, should be taking every bit of knowledge from the veteran.
These young guns have the luxury of pace, and there hold up game isn’t horrible, so the future is bright for them.
But when it comes down to it, they should be learning leadership, confidence, and goal-scoring ability from Ibrahimovic’s biggest strengths.
They may not have the size and strength that he has to offer, but they can surely make use of the technical and mental side of his game.
Overall, Zlatan’s game will have a great affect on the present, and the future as well.