Date: 27th December 2016 at 7:43am
Written by:

By Will Butcher

Tony Cottee believes Zlatan Ibrahimovic is crucial to Manchester United’s Premier League season and said “they need him in that team”.

The 35-year-old scored his 17th goal of the season on Boxing Day as Jose Mourinho’s side strolled to a 3-1 win against relegation candidates Sunderland.

Cottee claimed that the Sweden international offers United something that no other player can provide at Old Trafford, as he continues to produce the goods despite being 35 – an age that some critics said would be too much of an obstacle for the rigours of the Premier League.

“I don’t see why he can’t keep playing,” Cottee told Sky Sports, as quoted by Goal. “There will be occasions – the FA Cup springs to mind – when they will want to give him a rest, but they need him in that team.

“Although you have got other good players to play up front, they don’t do what Zlatan does.”

The strike against Sunderland was Ibrahimovic’s 50th in 2016 and according to Fox Sports, only Messi has scored more at club level this year.

The former AC Milan, Barcelona and Ajax forward scored United’s second in a flurry of late goals at Old Trafford against David Moyes’ side with a neat finish past Jordan Pickford, after being played through on goal by Paul Pogba.

Since his move to Manchester, Ibrahimovic has taken his goalscoring tally to a solid 17 goals in 26 league and cup outings.

In other Manchester United news, Everton have tabled a £40million offer as they look to raid United’s squad.