Jose Mourinho has hinted that Zlatan Ibrahimovic could return to Manchester United, with the striker “closer” to the Red Devils than any other club.
The enigmatic striker is currently a free agent after reaching the end of an initial 12-month deal at Old Trafford.
He was among those released by Mourinho once the 2016-17 campaign came to a close, with knee ligament damage having brought a productive season in England to a premature conclusion.
The 35-year-old is still working his way back to fitness, and has been linked with the likes of AC Milan and MLS side the Los Angeles Galaxy, but the option to pen a new short-term deal with United could be explored.
When quizzed on Ibrahimovic’s future ahead of a UEFA Super Cup clash with Real Madrid on Tuesday, Mourinho told Sport Mediaset: “Maybe he’ll stay with us.
“He has no contract but he is closer to Manchester.”
Mourinho admitted in July that fresh terms could be thrashed out with Ibrahimovic towards the end of the year if he makes a full recovery from knee surgery.
He said at the time: “Possibly, it’s open. Of course we wanted to be honest and open and leave everything for him to make the decision.
“At the same time, let’s make a decision that makes us all happy and if that is for him to stay and for us to wait – let’s say in December maybe, because I don’t think before December he can get back to competitive football – but why not wait for a player who gave us so much?”
Ambitious Serie A outfit Milan are carefully monitoring the situation as well, though, with director Massimiliano Mirabelli teasing a possible deal to Sport Mediaset.
He said: “Ibrahimovic? In life, never say never. Maybe an old acquaintance of ours could come back.”
Ibrahimovic netted 28 times for United in all competitions last season, helping them to Community Shield and EFL Cup glory before taking on a support role from the sidelines as Mourinho’s men ended the campaign with a Europa League triumph.
His position as the leading frontman at Old Trafford has been filled this summer by the £75 million signing of Romelu Lukaku, but a lack of options cost the Red Devils at times in 2016-17 and the need for greater squad depth could yet see him brought back into the fold.