Zlatan Ibrahimovic is seemingly on the brink of agreeing a return to Manchester United after confirming a "very big announcement" is close to being confirmed. The striker held a four-hour meeting with agent Mino Raiola on Wednesday [12 July] amid frenzied speculation a return to Old Trafford is in the offing.
The former Sweden captain has made significant progress in recovery from a cruciate knee ligament injury suffered in April which ruled him out for the rest of the season and had initially threatened to end his career at the age of 35. Ibrahimovic is recuperating under the watchful eye of United's medical team and they are reportedly "amazed" at the speed of his progress.
Despite scoring 28 goals in all competitions in his maiden season at United, Ibrahimovic was released by the club at the end of the campaign as Jose Mourinho decided against exercising the option to extend his contract by a further 12 months. Yet the former Barcelona and Juventus hitman could yet sign a short-term deal for the upcoming season ahead of his expected return in October.
Until now the prospect of Ibrahimovic resuming his United career had been mere speculation but the player himself has fuelled the reports after staging a lengthy summit with representative Raiola – who has also been influential in bringing Paul Pogba and Romelu Lukaku to the 20-time English league champions.
According to the Manchester Evening News, upon emerging from the Manchester restaurant where the meeting took place he told assembled photographers: "There will be a very big announcement soon, it will be huge." United have only signed two players this summer in the form of Lukaku and defender Victor Lindelof, with further additions expected ahead of the start of the campaign.
Suggestions that Ibrahimovic could return to play for United intensified this week when reports emerged that new signing Lukaku had asked him permission to take his number nine shirt – which the four-time Ballon d'Or nominee has vacated. Following the departure of Wayne Rooney, United are in desperate need of another attacking option and that could be provided by Ibrahimovic; though the renewal of the deal will come at a cost.
According to Football Leaks: The Dirty Business of Football Ibrahimovic earned a basis wage of £367,640-per-week during his one season with United and was also entitled to a goal bonus worth £2.86m. The total fee Mourinho's side paid totalled £19.11m and it is likely his latest meeting with Raiola would have included details regarding his pay packet. The evergreen forward has been linked with moves to the Chinese Super League and Major League Soccer, though staying in England is his preferred option.