Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho has revealed that he used Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s lack of a title in England as a way to motivate the Swede to join the club.
Ibrahimovic has won titles in Spain, Italy, France and the Netherlands but, after being released by PSG this summer, Mourinho pointed out to him that he has not yet won the Premier League — like the Portuguese himself.
Mourinho insisted that he does not believe that money is a source of motivation for Ibrahimovic and feels that the player would have gone elsewhere, if that was the case.
“Let’s be honest, he’s very rich,” he told reporters in Shanghai ahead of the club’s International Champions Cup game against Dortmund. “He’s made money all his career, he’s won a lot of things. You only come to the most difficult championship in the world if you feel you can do it. If you don’t feel you can do it, you go to America, China; stay in the French League one more season.
“So the guy wanted this one more challenge. When I told him that I had won in England, Spain and Italy and he hadn’t — that he’d done Spain, Italy and France — he thought ‘Ah, I want to go. I want to win every one.’
“So his motivation is high. His body is amazing. On Sunday, he is going to start a specific programme we have prepared before he joins our group on the Thursday, so he has five days just for him. So I expect he is going to be very good for us.”
Mourinho also insisted that the 34-year-old striker would bring some much-needed leadership on the pitch for United.
“Sometimes people say the team has no leaders, it’s this, it’s that, but what we need is everybody with the same kind of mentality,” he added. “I like communication and push them to communicate. I give a lot of instruction in training.
“It’s difficult for me to do the same in matches so I need guys on the pitch to read the game, to understand what we want. Zlatan is going to be one of them, and I feel already that we have guys to do the same.”
When asked if Ibrahimovic could still have an impact in the Premier League at the age of 34, Mourinho replied: “Yes, because first of all I know him very well. I always think there’s our age in ID terms, but then there’s our real age. Because, for me, the real age is not the age on your ID. That’s just a date when you were born.
“The real age — the real ID — is your body, your brain, your attitude. And this guy is young, his body is amazing.
“The way he grew up playing the sports he did before football — especially martial arts — he was prepared in terms of his muscles and the mental point of view, in a different way to the traditional football player, his DNA, his motivation.”
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