Zlatan Ibrahimovic: Manchester United re-sign striker on one-year deal

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Zlatan Ibrahimovic slots home for Man Utd

Manchester United have re-signed Zlatan Ibrahimovic on a one-year contract.

The 35-year-old former Sweden striker made 46 appearances and scored 28 goals for United last season.

Ibrahimovic was released by the club in June after his season was ended prematurely by a knee injury, but he is expected to be fit again in December.

"After his contribution last season he deserves our trust and we will be patient waiting for him to return," said manager Jose Mourinho.

Ibrahimovic, who initially joined the Red Devils on free transfer in July 2016, had been recuperating at United's training ground after knee surgery.

Mourinho added: "We are delighted Zlatan is on the road to recovery and we are equally delighted to have his ambition and experience back with us.

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Juan Mata hails return of 'big presence' Zlatan Ibrahimovic

"I have no doubt that he will be important in the second part of the season."

Two Los Angeles-based Major League Soccer clubs, LA Galaxy and Los Angeles FC, were both interested in signing the striker this summer.

However, Ibrahimovic said: "It was always mine and the club's intention for me to stay."

He added: "I cannot wait to get back out on that Old Trafford pitch, but I also know that I have to take my time to make sure that I am ready.

"I have been working hard and will continue to do so to make sure I am in the best possible condition for my return to the pitch."

Ibrahimovic made his debut for hometown club Malmo in 1999 and went on to play for Ajax, Juventus, Inter Milan, Barcelona, AC Milan and PSG. He has won a trophy in every season since 2001, including 13 league titles.

He retired from international football after Sweden's exit from Euro 2016, having scored 62 goals in 116 appearances.

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'Lions don't recover like humans'

Ibrahimovic said he turned down offers from "a couple of teams who wanted 'Ibra-kadabra'" but chose to rejoin United because "we had such a great year" last season.

"I come back to finish what I started," he told ESPN.

"There is a big chance of me going to the MLS. There were some talks but I am not done yet with what I started, which is why I am going back to Man Utd."

On his continuing rehabilitation from knee injury, Ibrahimovic added: "I am not done yet. I will decide when I am done. Lions don't recover like humans.

"When I come back I don't want to be something I wasn't. I want to be the one I was and even better. So it means I have to train even harder.

"In the beginning when it happened, it was something new for me because it was a big injury, this is the first major injury and was a different situation because I've been playing 15-20 years.

"But I feel good. I am strong."

Ibrahimovic said he also believes the United squad has been significantly strengthened by this summer's new arrivals.

"I am happy Romelu Lukaku came. We are stronger than we were last year. He has different qualities from me and [Marcus] Rashford.

"Lukaku called me and said 'bro, can I have the number nine?' I said I was not going to make it difficult for him - but I was going to take the number 10. I never left. I just upgraded my number.

"The signing of [Nemanja] Matic is big. He brings a stability to the team that the team didn't have last year. He is the important one."

What has Ibrahimovic won?

Ajax: Eredivisie (2001-02, 2003-04), Dutch Cup (2002) Dutch Super Cup (2003)

Juventus: Serie A (2004-05, 2005-06) *Juve later stripped of titles

Inter: Serie A (2006-07, 2007-08, 2008-09) Italian Super Cup (2006, 2008)

Barcelona: La Liga (2009-10), Spanish Super Cup (2009, 2010), Uefa Super Cup (2009), Fifa Club World Cup (2009)

AC Milan: Serie A (2010-11) Italian Super Cup (2011)

PSG: Ligue 1 (2012-13, 2013-14, 2014-15, 2015-16), French Cup (2015, 2016), League Cup (2014, 2015, 2016) French Super Cup (2013, 2014, 2015)

Man Utd: Community Shield (2016), League Cup (2016-17), Europa League (2016-17)

'It will be an eagerly awaited return' - analysis

BBC Sport's Simon Stone

Until the point at which he ruptured his cruciate ligament at the end of April, it seemed certain Ibrahimovic would stay at United for a second season.

In the five weeks between Ibrahimovic injuring himself in a Europa League tie with Anderlecht and the Premier League's retained list being published, it seems a decision was made, in principle, that the 35-year-old would stay if his recovery went well.

United allowed Ibrahimovic to use their medical facilities for his rehabilitation.

During their pre-season tour of the United States, midfielder Paul Pogba said the striker had been the same presence in the dressing room as he had been all along.

All the club and player needed to do was be sure the recovery was going well.

It obviously is, even if talk of a return to action next month is overestimating even Ibrahimovic's powers of recovery.

Mourinho is looking at the second half of the season, and it is understood a reduced contract reflects the fact Ibrahimovic cannot yet play.

There is a question over how the striker can play in the same team as Romelu Lukaku, but that answer is not required for a while yet.

With Wayne Rooney gone, Ibrahimovic has the prestigious number 10 shirt to replace the number nine that has gone to Lukaku.

And Ibrahimovic being the man he is, we are bound to see plenty of him before he makes that eagerly awaited first-team return.

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