Zlatan's future in doubt and the truth behind Griezmann and United
Zlatan Ibrahimovic will not be offered a new contract by Manchester United when his current deal expires at the end of this month, according to widespread reports in the UK newspapers.
Ibrahimovic was offered an extension to the one-year deal he signed at United last year at the back end of 2016, with the Swedish striker stalling on signing that contract while he weighed up his options with agent Mino Raiola.
Ibrahimovic’s plans were then thrown off course when he damaged knee ligaments in United’s Europa League quarter-final against Anderlecht in April, ruling him out for the rest of 2017 and putting a cloud over his future at the top level of the game.
Yet rumours have circulated in recent days to suggest United were considering offering Ibrahimovic a new deal, after Atletico Madrid forward Antoine Griezmann walked away from the chance to sign for United earlier his week.
Now several English newspapers are reporting that Ibrahimovic will be included on a list of players being released by United when it is published next week.
That decision would make perfect financial sense as Ibrahimovic was earning vast wages during his spell at Old Trafford and if he was to be out of action until the start of 2018, it would be hard to justify retaining his services from a financial perspective.
Major League Soccer clubs in America and Chinese Super League teams are believed to have offer Ibrahimovic a chance to extend his career, but agent Raiola suggests he would prefer to stay in Europe.
“Many clubs have asked for Zlatan,” stated the agent earlier this week. “He can play two more years and will stay in Europe, 100 per cent.”
Meanwhile, respected Spanish sources have poured cold water on United’s claims that they decided to walk away from a possible deal for Griezmann last Thursday.
After chasing Griezmann for most of 2017, it was hard to believe United had a sudden change of heart over the Frenchman’s qualities last Thursday, with the suggestion that the player will not leave Atletico Madrid while their transfer embargo remains in place far more plausible reason for the collapse of the deal.
Following Atletico’s appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport to have the embargo lifted ended in failure on Thursday, United were aware that Griezmann was no longer an option and leaked a story claiming that were looking at alternative targets.
This is a familiar line of PR spin from United, as they used similar tactics to pretend they did not want to sign Spanish international Pedro a few hours after he rejected a move to Manchester to sign for Chelsea.
United chiefs have also offered up smokescreens to suggest they did not want to sign Toni Kroos, Sergio Ramos and Cesc Fabregas in recent transfer windows after failed transfer attempts.
It's hard to know why United feel the need to offer up such a pretence for a failed pursuit of a player, but it is a publicity tactic the club's hierarchy seem determined to promote as they prepare for another summer of big spending.