Manchester United chief coach Jose Mourinho on Friday said veteran striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic will not play any part in their UEFA Champions League group stage campaign although the Swedish star penned a new one-year contract this week.
“Do we have space in the Champions League list to have him? Yes, so we don’t need to leave any player outside of the list, but I’m not thinking of Zlatan to play any part of the group phase,” Mourinho was quoted as saying by ESPN FC on the eve of United’s home game against Leicester City in the English Premier League (EPL).
Ibrahimovic’s first stint at United was cut short by a knee ligament injury but re-signed with the club he helped win the Europa League last term.
Mourinho hinted Ibrahimovic would be included in the 25-man Champions League squad when it is submitted next week ahead of games against Benfica, Basel and CSKA Moscow.
“Hopefully he can play in the knockout phase, but for that we need to finish top two (in the group). I don’t want to think about it (a potential comeback date). I don’t even ask, speak about it or discuss with the medical team about it,” Mourinho said.
“He will be an extra man for us in the second part of the season. When I say second part normally we say January after Christmas, when the transfer window reopens in January. But I have no idea at all and I think the right way is not even to think or speak about it an