Manchester United striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic has warned his under-performing teammates that they risk losing their place in the side if they do not meet the required standard. The 35-year-old Swede is United's top scorer this season and has issued a blunt warning to his misfiring colleagues.
United boss Jose Mourinho has consistently overlooked the likes of Memphis Depay and Henrikh Mkhitaryan so far this season. And now, Ibrahimovic has told his other teammates that they must perform consistently if they are to remain part of Mourinho's long-term plans at Old Trafford.
"At the top level you need to deliver. If you don't deliver, someone will come in and take your place," he said, according to the Manchester Evening News.
Mkhitaryan, 27, produced a stellar performance in United's 4-0 win against Feyenoord in the Europa League in midweek. The Armenian had not started a game since the Manchester derby in early September, but Ibrahimovic was not remotely surprised by Mkhitaryan's eye-catching display at Old Trafford.
"I know who Micki is, I see it every day in training, so hopefully he showed everybody who he is and he now has the confidence to keep on doing that," the United striker declared. "He was injured, he had a moment when he was injured and he's been training very hard, being very professional, so you just have to wait for your chance and, when you get your chance, you need to take it."
Indeed, Ibrahimovic admitted that competition for places was fierce at Old Trafford this season, despite United's underwhelming start to the campaign. The Reds currently occupy sixth position in the Premier League, but the burly Swede said their squad was jam-packed with quality.
"It's up to the coach who plays, because we're like, 25 players if I'm correct, so the coach is the boss, he decides who plays," the United star explained. "[Mkhitaryan is] a quality player, like every player in the team, but it's up to the coach who plays in the team. Like I said, he was injured for a while, but he's come back and he's been good in training, like everybody else."