Jose Mourinho has ruled out a move for a new striker in January despite saying it would be a “disaster” if Manchester United were to lose leading scorer Zlatan Ibrahimovic to injury.
Ibrahimovic, a free transfer from Paris Saint-Germain this summer, has scored 17 goals in 26 appearances for United — 12 more than Juan Mata and Paul Pogba, who have contributed five each in all competitions.
With his fellow strikers Wayne Rooney (three), Marcus Rashford (four) and Anthony Martial (four) scoring just 11 between them, Ibrahimovic’s goals have carried United to their current position of sixth ahead of the Old Trafford clash with Middlesbrough on Saturday.
But Mourinho said the club would not move for a striker — they are not expected to make any squad additions in January — despite the heavy reliance on 35-year-old Ibrahimovic.
“It would be a disaster [if Ibrahimovic is injured],” Mourinho said. “Obviously a disaster, but that’s football.
“But no, we are not going to add a striker. We have Zlatan, Rooney, Rashford and Martial, who can also be a No. 9 in a different style.
“We have a squad of 24 players. I know we have a lot of competitions to play, but where is the striker to come here with that quality to play for United?
“Where is that striker, where the club can let him come? That’s not something for the January market, it’s probably something for the summer.”
Ibrahimovic can end the year as the leading goal-scorer in Europe’s major leagues if he scores twice against Middlesbrough.
With 50 goals in 2016 for United and PSG, the Swede is just one behind Lionel Messi’s tally of 51 for Barcelona in La Liga.
But Mourinho said he was not surprised by Ibrahimovic’s contribution this season and said his tally was even more remarkable because of the lack of penalties taken.
“It’s not a surprise,” he said. “In Spain, Messi and Cristiano [Ronaldo] have a lot of penalties to score. They are phenomenal players with lots of penalties to score goals.
“Here, Zlatan has 18 matches and one penalty. It’s not so easy to score goals.”