Jose Mourinho revealed that Zlatan Ibrahimovic is favourite to sign for Manchester United once he recovers from the knee injury that has sidelined him at least until the end of 2017 and even possibly the start of next year.
The former Sweden international helped the Red Devils to three trophies – the Community Shield, the EFL Cup and the Europa League - in his debut season in the Premier League scoring 28 goals in all competitions. But Ibrahimovic was released earlier in the summer following the expiry of his one-year deal signed last year when he joined on a free transfer from Paris Saint-Germain.
The 35-year-old suffered a severe knee injury in the latter stages of last season and is expected to be out until at least the end of the year. He has been offered the full extent of United's Carrington training facility to continue his rehabilitation and Ibrahimovic has vowed to make a strong comeback and continue playing at the highest level.
Being a free agent, the Swede has attracted interest from a number of clubs in Europe and abroad. AC Milan are open to taking him back to the San Siro, while Major League Soccer (MLS) outfit LA Galaxy are also keen on signing him. Mourinho, however, continues to hint that Ibrahimovic, who earned £19.11m ($25m) in wages and bonuses last year, will be handed a new short-term deal by United.
"Maybe he's with us. He has no contract, but he is closer to Manchester," Mourinho said, as quoted by Italian broadcaster Sport Mediaset. "If we're here to play the Supercoppa it is also his merit."
The Portuguese manager also seemed to confirm the end of United's pursuit of Inter Milan winger Ivan Perisic, giving credit to the Italian side for standing their ground and holding on to one of their key players.
Mourinho, who won the treble with the Serie A outfit during his stint as manager between 2008 and 2010, backed current manager Luciano Spalletti to bring stability back to the club and get them back to winning ways.
"I always wished the best of all coaches that Inter had after me. I hope Luciano can stay, give stability and maybe win something. Attempt to take Perisic away to Inter? Football is business: if tomorrow we played against Inter I would win, it is normal. Inter defended Perisic, they did a good defense," the former Chelsea and Real Madrid manager added.