Injured striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic could reportedly secure his swift return to Manchester United as soon as this month despite not being expected to play again in 2017.

That is according to the Mail on Sunday, who say the Red Devils think it "increasingly likely" that they will agree a new short-term contract with the former Swedish captain on reduced terms as they look to ensure he is back in the fold ready for the knockout stages of the Champions League.

Ibrahimovic was officially released by United following the expiration of his lucrative one-year deal in June.

However, he has used their Carrington training base to aid his recovery from a torn anterior cruciate ligament suffered during the Europa League quarter-final second-leg victory over Anderlecht in April that required surgery and was slated to keep him sidelined for approximately nine months.

Talk of a return for the second half of the 2017-18 campaign quickly gathered pace despite the £75m ($96.5m) summer addition of Romelu Lukaku and manager Jose Mourinho admitted last month that discussions regarding that very outcome had already begun.

"We are discussing the possibility of him to stay with us," he said. "It was very clear from him that what he did last year was not enough for him. He wants more football at the highest level so we are having conversations and discussing the possibility of him staying for the second part of the season.

"He is injured, he needs time to recover, and is not ready to play tomorrow. It's not something that's urgent, it's not desperate to have it done or not."

Friend and former teammate Paul Pogba previously admitted that Ibrahimovic remains an influential figure at Old Trafford and there have even been suggestions that the club had talked about offering the serial champion, who turns 36 in October, a coaching role once his illustrious playing career draws to a close.

Ibrahimovic finished his injury-shortened sole season as United's top scorer after notching 28 times in 46 appearances across all competitions. However, Mourinho's men have certainly not been goal-shy in his absence, bouncing back from a disappointing Uefa Super Cup defeat to Real Madrid by opening the new Premier League campaign with successive 4-0 demolitions of West Ham United and Swansea City respectively.

Lukaku, who asked Ibrahimovic's permission before taking his old number nine shirt following that high-profile switch from Everton, already has four strikes to his name in just three matches. Pogba and the seemingly rejuvenated Anthony Martial have contributed two goals apiece, meanwhile.

If United were to reach an agreement with Ibrahimovic before the end of August, then he would technically join compatriot Victor Lindelof, Lukaku and midfield enforcer Nemanja Matic as their fourth summer signing.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic
Zlatan Ibrahimovic is expected to rejoin Manchester United following his initial release in June Getty Images