(Reuters) - Zlatan Ibrahimovic could be offered a new deal by Manchester United, the Premier League club’s manager Jose Mourinho said on Friday ahead of a friendly with Los Angeles Galaxy.
Speaking at a news conference on the eve of their first pre-season tour match in California, Mourinho left the door open to the Swede returning when he recovers from knee surgery.
The out-of-contract Ibrahimovic, 35, was United’s top scorer last term after joining on a one-year deal, but he was injured in April and is likely to be sidelined at least until December.
“If the decision is to stay and wait until December -- he can’t be back until them -- why not wait? We are speaking and changing ideas,” the Portuguese coach told reporters.
With Ibrahimovic out of action, Mourinho has brought in Belgium striker Romelu Lukaku from Everton for a fee put at about 75 million pounds ($98.27 million) by British media.
Mourinho said United signed Lukaku because he is a ready-made Premier League player, having had lots of experience in England, which hopefully would allow him to fit in immediately.
“Obviously there are other good strikers in football, but the Premier League is a very specific habitat, a difficult habitat for strikers, and normally they need some time to adapt but Lukaku has been in the Premier League for five seasons,” he told reporters.
”Now he comes to a club with different responsibilities in the right moment of his career. He is still a young player but he has years of experience in the Premier League and the Belgian national team. He will go into the Champions League, which was also his main motivation.”
Mourinho needed a player who knows how to score against defensive teams that, using his famous phrase, “park the bus”.
“Romelu is not a player that participates a lot in the build-up play. He is a player that normally plays in the last third,” added Mourinho.
”We had so many opponents last season that decided clearly to defend, closing spaces, playing with lots of defenders and defensive midfield players.
”We needed a target man, which is not (France forward Anthony) Martial or (England striker Marcus) Rashford.
”We have good options, good players, but a target man, a clear number nine, one who is comfortable to play in the box, we thought that was Romelu.”
($1 = 0.7632 pounds)
Reporting by Andrew Both in Cary, North Carolina; Editing by Ken Ferris