LONDON: Manchester United have already decided to take up the extra one-year option on Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s contract.
The veteran Swede joined United on a free transfer from Paris Saint-Germain in the summer on an initial one-year deal.
Now, despite or perhaps because of reports linking him with a move to the United States, manager Jose Mourinho said he wants him to stay at Old Trafford.
Mourinho, speaking before a crucial UEFA Europa League clash with Feyenoord, said: “Zlatan’s situation is simple – he has one plus one year at the club and we are happy with him and we are going to execute the option of a second season.
“He is happy, he’s committed and he is loving his life as a football player at Manchester United and this is probably the last big challenge of his wonderful career.
“I think it is perfect for him to be here for 18 months more, and then he owns the decision about his future.”
The 35-year-old stressed negotiations have yet to be concluded but suggested the extension of his Old Trafford contract is a mere formality.
Ibrahimovic said: “For the moment we haven’t had any discussions. I have a contract that says one plus one years. I feel fresh, I feel in shape and physically if I feel like now, probably it will be a second year.
“I want to be realistic with myself – I want to be able to perform like I can do and not waste time. Now it is probably a yes, but I need discussions.”
Mourinho also suggested he could be willing to extend his own contract beyond its existing three years, stressing the need for patience as he seeks to transform United back into the Premier League’s dominant force.
Despite appearing plagued with frustration both on and off the field for the first few months of his Old Trafford reign, Mourinho believes he can learn from Sir Alex Ferguson, who had to wait seven years for his first league title after being appointed in 1986.
Mourinho said: “Obviously people want big results, but I think they can look back and try to make a point of comparison, that the best manager in the history of the Premier League needed a few years to reach such a successful period – which means if the best needed that time the others also need that time.
“I am in the beginning of my contract and the beginning of the process, so let’s go step by step.
“If you ask me, would I like to be successful in these three years and to stay here for more time than the three years, then yes I would, because I’m in the club and the league I want to be in, so yes I’d love it.
“But I also have to deserve it, so let’s see the evolution of my results. If one day the club thinks I deserve it I’ll be very happy, but I’m just at the beginning.”
United go into Thursday night’s game with qualification for the Europa League knockout stages hanging in the balance as they currently sit third in the group behind joint leaders Feyenoord and Fenerbahce.
Mourinho is set to give Henrikh Mkhitaryan a rare chance to impress, while Luke Shaw is also ready to return for the first time since Mourinho questioned the full-back’s apparent unwillingness to play through the pain barrier at Swansea a fortnight ago.
Mourinho added: “It’s simple – we need four points to qualify and it doesn’t matter what happens in the matches where we are not involved.
“There is no space for a defeat tomorrow, because [it is] a game where we have only two options and the third option, defeat, [means] we are out. We are going to approach the game knowing it is a knockout game for us and we cannot lose.”