Zlatan Ibrahimovic's return to Manchester United will reportedly be confirmed this week as the 35-year-old targets resuming his career against Tottenham Hotspur on 28 October. The former Sweden captain is on the verge of completing his recovery from a knee injury, a rapid rehabilitation which has convinced the Old Trafford hierarchy to hand him a new deal.
Ibrahimovic was released at the end of the 2016-17 campaign after missing the last two months of the season due to a knee problem suffered in the Europa League against Anderlecht. The ex-Barcelona and Juventus forward has staged his recovery at the club's Carrington training ground and has left United's medical team astounded over the speed of his recuperation.
A return date in December had originally been pencilled in but, according to The Sun, Ibrahimovic could return two months ahead of schedule and may be available to face Tottenham at Old Trafford on the final weekend of October. A deal is expected to be announced before the end of the week in what would be the United's fourth signing of the summer.
Though as a free agent United are eligible to sign Ibrahimovic outside of the transfer window they must complete the deal before the start of September should they wish for him to play in the Champions League group stage. He will compete alongside new signing Romelu Lukaku, Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford for a place in an attack which he spearheaded for long periods of last season.
Jose Mourinho has been keen to add a fourth signing to his squad for the new season and though he has originally targeting a wide player - with moves for Gareth Bale and Ivan Persic failing - he will be boosted by the arrival of a familiar face who netted 28 times in all competitions last season.
Initial reports indicate that Ibrahimovic will sign a significantly reduced contract from the one during his maiden campaign in England. In the 2016-17 season he earned a basic wage of £367,640-per-week and was also entitled to a goal bonus worth £2.86m, bringing the total deal to £19.11m, according to Football Leaks: The Dirty Business of Football.
Should United complete Ibrahimovic's return in time to name him in their Champions League squad then ex-England and Manchester City boss Stuart Pearce feels he could deputise for Romelu Lukaku in the competition.
"[He's] a good alternative," Pearce told Sky Sports. "Whether Mourinho will play them both together or just divvy them up and play one one week and one the next week, or just for certain games.
"They've got Champions League football this year, some real high-profile matches, and certainly Mourinho prioritises every bit of silverware he can get his hands on. Whatever it is, he likes to win things, so he's going to need a big squad of players. And this player, when he walks through the door, he demands respect and he'll get that from them there."