Jose Mourinho says Zlatan Ibrahimovic can play ‘until he is 40’

Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho believes 35-year-old Zlatan Ibrahimovic has the quality to play until he’s 40.

The Portuguese manager showered his striker with praise in an interview with Sky Sports, saying the Swede has only gotten better with age. “I think he is even better than when I worked with him at Inter,” Mourinho said, via ESPNFC. “He is more collected, more intelligent and understands the game even better. He is not just a finisher, but is also important when it comes to creating goals.”

Despite Ibrahimovic arriving just this past summer, Ibrahimovic has slotted into a leadership role for the Red Devils, Mourinho added.

“He is a leader,” Mourinho said. “He has a special feeling, a special care with the younger guys. I think he could play on until he is 40 from a physical point of view.”

Considering the season Ibrahimovic is having, Mourinho’s not completely off base. The striker is leading United with 24 goals, 15 in the Premier League alone, and is putting in performance after performance that belies his age. He’s scored 9 game-winners in all competitions, per transfermarkt. Quite honestly, he’s been the club’s player of the season, by far.

Having only signed a one-year deal this summer, Ibrahimovic isn’t tied to United beyond this season. Mourinho certainly seems keen to keep him, though.

Given Ibrahimovic’s age, it’s reasonable to expect that he might be ready to call it quits in the coming years. Will he make it to 40? It’s not very common, but that’s something only he knows. If anyone would dare to push it that far, it’s him.