Zlatan Ibrahimovic squad number news suggests Juan Mata future still undecided

Ibrahimovic during his Manchester United unveiling (Picture: @ManUtd/Twitter)
Ibrahimovic during his Manchester United unveiling (Picture: @ManUtd/Twitter)

Reports have been growing that Juan Mata will leave Manchester United after Zlatan Ibrahimovic appeared to confirm he would be taking the number 8 shirt at Old Trafford.

Ibrahimovic, the second United signing since Jose Mourinho took the manager's chair, reportedly asked what number he would be taking during an exclusive MUTV interview.

The enigmatic striker allegedly replied to the information he was given by saying: "Eight? That’s cool."

However, Manchester Evening News are now reporting that the Sweden star will not be taking the number 8 jersey from his Spanish teammate.

This throws fresh light on Mata's situation at Old Trafford, with several reports over the weekend stating that the Spain man had one foot out the exit door.

Mourinho and Mata during their Chelsea days

Everton are said to be leading the chase for the playmaker, who was sold to United by Mourinho during his second stint as Chelsea boss.

It is thought that no decision has been made on Zlatan's shirt number due to United still being busy in the transfer market.

The other player to arrive at Old Trafford since the club announced Mourinho as manager is centre-half Eric Bailly, signed from Villarreal for a fee thought to be in the region of £30million.

Ibrahimovic arrived in Manchester on a free transfer, having completed the last year of his Paris Saint-Germain contract in the previous season.

A deal for Borussia Dortmund playmaker Henrikh Mkhitaryan is thought to be extremely close to completion, with a slip-up by the club's shop before a Dortmund tweet more or less confirming the 27-year-old's move.

It is the Armenia international's transfer that could be the nail in the coffin for Mata, as opposed to the shirt-number furore.

Although he has just a year left on his contract with the Bundesliga outfit, Mkhitaryan is still likely to command a significant fee.

Within Mourinho's favoured 4-2-3-1 formation, the Armenian is likely to lay claim to the number 10 role – the same position that Mata covets.

With club legend Wayne Rooney, as well as the likes of Ander Herrera and Marouane Fellaini potentially battling for the same spot, Mkhitaryan's switch could be the real final nail in Mata's Old Trafford coffin.