Manchester United have confirmed that the knee injuries sustained by Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Marcos Rojo involve “significant ligament damage” and said that both players will require specialist treatment in the near future.
Ibrahimovic suffered what looked a serious injury to his right knee towards the end of normal time against Anderlecht on Thursday. The Swede hyper-extended his right leg and looked in considerable pain as he landed on the limb awkwardly. Ibrahimovic had to be carried off on a stretcher, as had been the case with Rojo when the Argentinian defender was forced off after 22 minutes.
United released a statement on Saturday evening, saying: “Detailed investigations on the injuries sustained by Marcos Rojo and Zlatan Ibrahimovic during Thursday’s Europa League match have confirmed significant knee ligament damage in both players that requires specialist opinions over the coming days. Estimations of time to full recovery will only be possible once definitive treatment plans have been decided after these consultations.”
The news is a sizeable blow to José Mourinho’s side. Ibrahimovic is United’s top scorer with 28 goals and is also the manager’s de facto on-field leader. It means United will have to negotiate next month’s Europa League semi-final against Celta Vigo and try to achieve a top-four finish with seven Premier League matches left without the Swede.
There is also the question of whether Ibrahimovic plays for United again. He has yet to sign a one-year deal on offer and if the 35-year-old is out for a prolonged period this might never occur and the Swede’s final action for the club would be having to be carried off at Old Trafford. Rojo, meanwhile, joins the long-term defensive absentees Phil Jones and Chris Smalling on the sidelines as they head to Burnley on Sunday hoping to press their claims for a top-four finish.
The left-back Luke Shaw, who appears finally to be winning Mourinho’s trust after stinging public criticism from the manager, feels United have the strength in depth to cope with their injury problems, even if the Portuguese himself says his team are in trouble.
“The great thing about our squad is we have quality players all around in every position and people can come in and go out,” Shaw said on MUTV. “When their chance comes, they take it and the team at the moment are very strong in training and everyone is fighting for a place because we have important games coming up.
“Obviously, we want to fight for the top four as well and now we have the semis and everyone wants to be playing, so the sort of quality in the training is good with everyone showing what they can do to get in the first XI.”