Jose Mourinho has provided an update on Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s fitness, in a press conference to preview Manchester United’s Premier League match against Tottenham Hotspur.
The Swedish striker has not featured since Burnley visited Old Trafford on Boxing Day and, since then, last season’s top scorer has been working on his match fitness at the Aon Training Complex.
“He’s working hard to be fit,” says Mourinho. “I’m not saying injured because he’s not injured. I think he’s in a moment of trying to feel really ready for the demands of Premier League football.”
The manager has also responded to online speculation that American clubs could be interested in Ibrahimovic, by telling reporters on Monday afternoon: “He told me nothing about it. The first time I read something or listened to something about that was from you – I read on some website and I listened to some channel. He never mentioned that to me, so I don’t know.
“You know, Zlatan is in his last year of contract. If – I’m saying if, if, if, because you told me, I repeat, he said nothing about it to me – but if, if, if that is true and Zlatan wants a future in another club, in another country, we are here to help and to create conditions for it to happen, not to make his life difficult.
“But, I repeat, the only thing that Zlatan told me or the last thing that Zlatan told me was he wants to recover totally and feel ready to help the team. That’s the last thing I heard from him.”
United are preparing for Wednesday night’s game against Spurs, who are fifth in the table and are therefore currently outside the UEFA Champions League qualification places for next season.
When asked about the challenge of finishing in the top four, Mourinho admitted it is getting harder. “Last season was hard, this season is hard,” he explained. “Last season we gave up on that fight when we felt that it was going to be very difficult to do that, plus we had the injuries and the Europa League [to play in].
“But this season everybody is there and, speaking about Tottenham, they are fifth but they are one of the best teams in the league. So [whether they are] fifth, fourth or third, it’s not important for the match. The important thing is the great quality they have.”