The whispers have grown a little louder in recent days and it appears that there is a real chance that Zlatan Ibrahimovic will rejoin Manchester United on loan in January.
When we last saw Ibra in a Manchester United shirt, he was returning from a cruciate ligament injury and look like a shadow of the man who had led United to two trophies in his first season with the club.
But the 37-yuear-old striker has regained his fitness and scoring touch in Major League Soccer with 21 goals in 25 games for the LA Galaxy this season.
But Mourinho is not interested in bringing back Zlatan for his goals, although that will help. The true worth of Ibrahimovic to the under-pressure Mourinho would be the Swede’s influence in in the dressing-room.
To is not a coincidence that the disharmony within the United squad has become an issue since Ibrahimovic left.
It is no secret Mourinho is struggling to reassert his authority on some members of the squad, with many senior players have grown angry and frustrated with the manager due to his treatment of teammates, tactical decisions and negative demeanor around the training ground.
Ibrahimovic would not provide a miracle cure for the discontent, but his presence within the group during his 18 months at United was significant, with all players, young and old, regarding him as a leader. Even more importantly, Ibrahimovic acted like a buffer between the dressing room and Mourinho due to his long-standing relationship with a manager he had previously worked under at Inter Milan.
Since Ibrahimovic left United, plus the departure of Wayne Rooney to Everton, there is no singular voice in the dressing and as a result United now have a fractured dressing room where disparate groups have formed based on shared nationality or language.
Ibrahimovic also led by example, inspiring the club’s youngsters with his humility and dedication, as well as leading from the front when speaking to the media.
He was looked upon as the “cool older brother” at United, even by the likes of Pogba — the two players are both represented by agent Mino Raiola, so were already close — and his departure has created a void unforeseen by Mourinho.
United have learned how to cope without Ibrahimovic on the pitch, with Romelu Lukaku’s goals last season replacing those scored by Swede, but the ripple effect of his move to MLS is now being felt off the pitch.
If Mourinho remains in charge of United by the time January arrives (which is by no means certain) a move for Ibrahimovic would not be the craziest idea. In fact, it could be just what the manager needs to turn his squad of malcontents around.