The rest of Europe’s top leagues may be going on break for the holidays, but you can always count on the English Premier League to satisfy your holiday football craving. As is tradition, the EPL will be cramming two full rounds into the week between Christmas and New Years during what is known in England as the “Festive Season.”
One player who will be playing through the holiday season for the first time in his career is Zlatan Ibrahimovic. The Swedish striker has spent his career on the continent but is finding success with Manchester United in his first season in English football.
At the age of 35, Ibrahimovic joined the Red Devils rather late in his career, especially for a striker. There were doubts going into the season about whether he would be up to the pace and intensity of the English top flight. After an impressive debut that saw him score four goals in United’s first four fixtures, the former Paris Saint-Germain and AC Milan striker fell off a bit, giving his critics the opportunity to pounce.
But Ibrahimovic has come roaring back onto the scoresheet in recent weeks. With 16 goals in 25 appearances across all competitions, Ibra is United’s leading scorer this season. Granted, this is far from a vintage Man United team we are talking about.
Currently sitting in sixth place, Jose Mourinho’s team have had an up and down season thus far but do seem to be stabilizing. United’s position in the table is in no small part down to Ibrahimovic’s goals; without which they could be 10 points worse off, which would leave them just a few points above the relegation zone.
Ibrahimovic joined United on a one-year contract but indications are that he may end up extending it with his agent Mino Raiola telling talkSPORT there is a “big chance” Ibra will stay for another year.
Raiola went on to say that Ibra had “killed everybody who had doubts” about him and confirmed that the striker had turned down a big money offer from China to play in the EPL.
“He chose not to take it to come to England. The boy is not done yet. He still has the fire, he wants to win, to perform. If it was only money, he would not be with Manchester United.”
Ibrahimovic and Man United will be in action on Boxing Day when they welcome Sunderland to Old Trafford.
Catch Manchester United vs. Sunderland AFC on Monday, December 26 at 9:55 a.m. EST on NBC Sports and tune into the NBC family of channels for comprehensive coverage of the whole Festive Season program of matches in the Premier League.