Jose Mourinho has dropped another hint suggesting Zlatan Ibrahimovic will sign a new deal at Manchester United and return for the second-half of the season.
Ibrahimovic shone during his first season in English football last term, scoring 28 goals in all competitions, but tore his anterior cruciate ligament in a Europa League quarter-final clash against Anderlecht.
The injury ended his season and forced United to review their summer transfer plans – abandoning their pursuit of Atletico Madrid star Antoine Griezmann to pursue a more traditional number nine capable of replacing the injury-stricken Ibrahimovic in Romelu Lukaku.
The former Sweden international is not expected to play again this year and was not offered a new deal by United when his one-year contract expired at the end of June.
Lukaku will be expected to fill that void for United when the 2017-18 campaign gets underway, but Mourinho has now suggested he will also have the option of Ibrahimovic once again in six months' time.
"And we spent because of what happened to Zlatan and we cannot allow ourselves to be without an important, strong striker for the first six months of the season."
Mourinho has already explained the club remain open to re-signing the striker, who will be 36 by the time he is fit to return to action. And while the Swede is not officially a United player, teammate Paul Pogba says his influence is still being felt throughout the dressing room.
"Obviously Zlatan is a leader, always a big leader, and he's a big leader because he's still in the team," Pogba told reporters. "Even though he's not playing he's a leader outside of the pitch."