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Red Devils Advocate: Could signing Zlatan Ibrahimovic actually be a bad idea?

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Red Devils Advoctate is our weekly column in which we hope to spark debate by providing balance and opposition to the common feeling amongst United fans, covering a different subject each week. This week, Ryan Baldi questions whether signing Zlatan Ibrahimovic is such a great idea.

International Champions Cup 2015 - Paris Saint-Germain v ACF Fiorentina Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

The José Mourinho revolution has already begun, with the new Manchester United manager making moves in the transfer market to reinforce the thin squad left behind by Louis van Gaal.

Throughout his career, Mourinho has tended to have a trusted lieutenant or two within his squad. Whether that be a player he has worked with previously, or just someone he has formed a tight bond with and trusts with the task of carrying out his instructions to the letter, and inspiring the rest of the team to follow suit.

And as Mourinho looks to restore United to the status of genuine title contenders next season, it seems he has earmarked Zlatan Ibrahimovic to lead his line.

Inter Milan Team Practice Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

The two worked together for one season at Inter Milan back in 2008-09. They formed a strong working relationship, with Ibrahimovic saying that he would kill for Mourinho in his autobiography I am Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

From the moment rumours of United's interest in the Swede began to circulate, fans were quick to proclaim the potential signing as an absolute coup.

But if you bring Ibrahimovic to Old Trafford, a fair few caveats have to come along with him.

Firstly, there's the age factor. Ibrahimovic will turn 35 in October, so it's fair to say he has to be considered as a very short-term solution for United.

Granted, the lanky striker is coming off the back of his best ever season in terms of goals scored -- with 52 goals from 53 matches for Paris St. Germain last season -- but that was while playing as the focal attacking point of PSG, who are by far the best team in Ligue 1. No other French club can come close to matching the budget and firepower of the Parisians. Their stroll to the Ligue 1 title last season was evidence of how little second-place Lyon, and those further down the table, can offer them serious competition.

With United hoping to bounce back from a season in which they finished fifth in the Premier League -- having registered their lowest goals tally in over two decades -- Ibrahimovic will be walking into a completely different situation than he leaves behind in France.

Stylistically, Ibrahimovic is a player of immense skill, and will undoubtedly bring some of the Cantona-esque swagger back to Old Trafford, but he is no work-horse.

Mourinho shipped Juan Mata out of Chelsea in 2014 beacuse he felt the Spaniard was unable to fulfill his pressing duties and lacked the energy to perform as he requires of his forward line.

If that was true of Mata, it is also doubly true of Ibrahimovic. You won't see the former Ajax and Juventus star pressing centre-backs and vigorously defending from the front. If Mourinho wants to operate with a high-energy front-line -- as is usually his modus operandi -- then others will have to pick up the slack.

Then there is the issue of Ibrahimovic's ego. No stranger to a sulk, or an agry rant, when things don't go his way, the wrath of Ibrahimovic can be a force of nature.

With scathing words directed toward team mates or coaches -- Pep Guardiola at Barcelona, being the case in point, was labelled "spineless" and "not a man" by the outspoken Swede -- Ibrahimovic could become a disruptive influence within the dressing room.

On the plus side, Ibrahimovic joining United represents a statement of intent from Mourinho and the board. The man is a serial winner, and this mentality could benefit the whole squad -- particularly the younger players.

And bringing in a player of Ibrahimovic's age, rather than a younger world-class striker, would not stand in the way of Marcus Rashford's development. Rashford has only been a first-team player since late February and, at 18-years-old, will not suffer from a role in which he is slighlty less depended upon. In fact, it would help guard against the dreaded "burn-out" later in his career.

For the sake of argument, if United were to sign a slightly young striker, such as Karim Benzema or Gonzalo Higuaín, Rashford's path to first-team opportunities would be blocked for a longer period than it would be by Ibrahimovic, whose contract is only for one year (with the club holding the option to extend for a further year).

In summation, there is plenty to be excited about when considering the prospect of Ibrahimovic pulling on a United shirt, but the Swede does not come without his share of baggage.