Zlatan Ibrahimovic can usurp Lionel Messi’s goal-scoring exploits when Manchester United take on Middlesbrough on New Year’s eve.
The 35-year-old has scored 50 times for United and PSG in 2016 – and 17 in all competitions since his summer move to Old Trafford.
Of Europe’s top five leagues, only Messi has scored more during the calendar year. But Ibrahimovic can overtake Barcelona’s five-time Ballon d’Or winner while the Spanish league is on a winter break.
Even if he doesn’t find the net against Middlesbrough, Ibrahimovic has already proved an astute signing by Jose Mourinho – equaling Anthony Martial ‘s haul from the whole of last season.
And Phil Jones has explained why the veteran is still producing the goods at the highest level.
“He’s a handful,” said the defender. “He’s a big, strong man and he knows where the back of the net is.
“He gives you that outlet when you are under pressure. Obviously we don’t want to keep knocking the ball long in games, but if you have to, then he’s always there to receive it and he makes life very difficult for defenders.
“He’s a big focal point for our team.” The form of Ibrahimovic, as well as fellow summer signings Paul Pogba and Henrikh Mkhitaryan, has been key to four successive Premier League victories for United, who look to have found their feet under Mourinho.
He told United Review: “There were four or five games we should have won, but drew. But we are not losing now we’re turning those draws into wins now.
“We’ve had four back-to-back wins now and we need to keep going and winning because there is no margin for error, especially in this League.