With the last kick of the game in normal time of Manchester United’s Europa League quarter-final against Anderlecht, Zlatan Ibrahimović went down in agony. Ibrahimović is nearly impossible to knock down, and even with United desperately seeking a winner, it was clear that this was no cheap ploy to con the referee into awarding a penalty. He was clutching his knee, and the ugly replays confirmed the severity of the injury.
Now, it appears that injury will cost Ibrahimović the rest of the season, and - with a contract extension yet to be agreed - he may have played his last game for United.
Zlatan had his worst game in a United shirt yesterday, and his form has noticeably dipped lately. Even still, his direct involvement in goals this season - to the tune of 28 goals and 9 assists - far outstrip any of his teammates. With a brutal league run in on the horizon, and a tricky Europa League semi-final sandwiched between trips to Arsenal and Tottenham, losing a player of Ibrahimović’s calibre is a serious blow to United’s hopes to securing a successful end to the season.
For the player, if the injury is as bad as feared (Di Marzio is reporting both a torn ACL and PCL) it is a particularly cruel twist of fate. Ibrahimović is not just the premier striker of his generation, but he’s also a player that has been remarkably durable throughout his illustrious career. To suffer an injury like this that can potentially rob him of the chance to end his top-flight career on his own terms just seems unfair.
The club have yet to confirm the extent of the injury, so we will update as more details emerge.