Zlatan Ibrahimovic could leave Manchester United before the end of the season with the club now considering how to replace the veteran striker.
Ibrahimovic, the club's top scorer with 28 goals in his maiden season last term, returned after seven months out in November last year but has started just two matches since then with summer signing Romelu Lukaku now Jose Mourinho's firm first choice option up front.
The former Sweden international was officially released by the club last June but signed a one-year deal in August that expires at the end of the season. While recovering from a serious injury suffered last April, Ibrahimovic was linked with moves to both Major League Soccer and Chinese Super League clubs, interest that still lingers, according to Yahoo Sport.
With the American and Chinese transfer windows open in Feburary, the veteran striker could leave the club before the season is out, as Bastian Schweinsteiger did last season with his move to Chicago Fire. Whether it comes at the end of the season or before then however, United do not anticipate a third season with Ibrahimovic at the club.
While Lukaku is to remain the club's first option in attack, United are now considering a number of different approaches to filling the void when the Swede does leave Old Trafford, Yahoo Sport add.
One option would be for the club to sign another centre-forward capable of coming straight into the starting XI, an established player already in their mid-20s. The report adds Torino striker Andrea Belotti is top of the club's list in this regard.
The 24-year-old, who struck 26 Serie A goals last season, was strongly linked with moves to United and Chelsea last summer transfer and reportedly remains on Antonio Conte's radar. While his form has dropped off from last season's heights, the striker who has a €100m release clause written into his contract remains an option United will consider.
Alternatively, United will contemplate bringing in a less high profile striker to shadow Lukaku, one who will be comfortable playing second fiddle to the Belgium international while developing his game under Mourinho's tutelage.
Or, United may choose to place all their faith in of their current forward options in Marcus Rashford or Anthony Martial. While both prefer playing through the middle, the two have shared duties on the left of attack this season. Rashford has given a handful of opportunities to lead the line on his own in the Carabao Cup and FA Cup, with Martial showing promise playing up alongside Lukaku in matches where Mourinho has opted for a 3-5-2 formation.
This option would also allow United to use transfer funds to improve other areas of their squad, with Mourinho understood to be keen on a more orthodox winger and a left-back.