Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho has revealed that he signed Zlatan Ibrahimovic for his personality in the dressing room as much as his footballing abilities.
The veteran Swedish striker has established himself as one of the Red Devils’ most important figures following his summer move from Paris Saint-Germain and the Portuguese has underlined the 35-year-old’s importance.
Mourinho, who replaced Louis van Gaal last summer at Old Trafford, has said the influence of Ibrahimovic is vital in a dressing room that had become bereft of “super personalities”.
“You have to adapt to the reality of the club, its needs and its demands,” he told France Football. “It is called being intelligent. The priority is to establish relations of peace and love in a group, to create stability.
“Manchester United no longer has the super personalities like Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes or Roy Keane.
“There is Wayne Rooney and Michael Carrick, who are the last faces of that generation and a new squad of players has to adapt.
“That is why it was important for me to get Zlatan. In this team, he had, without being English, without knowing the culture of the club, the personality and the profile to be more than just a simple player.”
Indeed, Mourinho believes he needs big personalities for his teams – and his methods – to be most effective.
“Mind games, which involve trying to manipulate someone psychologically through the media, are a way to create a state of thinking, but they’re most effective when you have a team full of personalities who are ready to take that kind of talk on board,” he explained.
Mourinho's side are fifth in the Premier League standings, four points behind fourth-placed Liverpool but with two games in hand. They are also in the quarter-finals of the Europa League and won the EFL Cup in February.