Zlatan Ibrahimovic has insisted he will not retire from football but admitted he will be out “for a while” with the injury he sustained against Anderlecht last week.
The Manchester United striker suffered significant knee ligament damage in the quarter-final victory in the Europa League, with the club awaiting a more detailed prognosis on how long he will be out. The United manager, José Mourinho, admitted after Sunday’s 2-0 victory over Burnley that the 35-year-old’s recovery will be “really, really hard” due to his advanced years but, in a post on his Instagram page, Ibrahimovic has vowed to come back stronger.
“First of all, thank you for all the support and love,” he wrote. “It’s no news I got injured so I will be out of football for a while. I will go through this like everything else and come back even stronger. So far I played with one leg so it shouldn’t be any problem.
“One thing is for sure, I decide when it’s time to stop and nothing else. Giving up is not an option. See you soon.”
Ibrahimovic’s one-year deal with United expires at the end of the season, although the club has been in talks over extending his stay. Mourinho admitted that he must wait to see the full extent of the damage before making any judgment on him or defender Marcos Rojo, who also injured his knee against Anderlecht.
“The injuries are really big,” he said. “No player deserves to be injured, but in these two cases are even more sad.
“Zlatan, in this phase of his career, it is really hard and Marcos was in the best moment of his career, playing very well for us and finally getting a position as a central defender in the national team. It’s really sad for them.
“I know [how long they will be out for] but it is for the medical department to be more specific and they prefer to wait a couple more days because the players want to see other specialists and to have an extra opinion and we have to respect that. But they are important injuries.”
Asked whether Ibrahimovic would play again, the Portuguese replied: “I don’t care about it in this moment, I just want the player to recover the best he can.
“I’m not thinking about it. I’m not sad for the team – the impact not to have them can affect the team in terms of results and ambitions, I don’t care about it, I just think about them.”
United’s players warmed up at Turf Moor in shirts with either Ibrahimovic or Rojo’s name adorned on the back and Mourinho paid tribute to both players.
“We cry because we have two important injuries in two amazing guys,” he said. “We don’t cry because we lose quality on the pitch, no, we cry because they are two important surgeries and two important periods of recovering and we feel for our friends.”
Ander Herrera also said he has “no doubts” Ibrahimovic will play football again.
“Of course he can. First because he is privileged physically. His physique, his body is one of the best I have ever seen so I think it will be easier for him to get back than others,” said the Spaniard.
“But of course he is 35, he will have to work very, very hard, be very patient. But I have no doubt he will be back because he loves football, he loves to win, he loves to score goals.
“He loves to train every day. Every day he wants to win, every box, every football tennis, everything in training, so I have no doubt he will be back. But we have to be, everyone, supporting them - not only Zlatan also Marcos because they are really bad moments for them.”