Zlatan Ibrahimovic may be left behind by José Mourinho when Manchester United fly to China on Tuesday, with the manager considering handing the striker his friendly debut against Galatasaray on 30 July or Everton on 3 August.
Ibrahimovic signed for United on a free transfer on 2 July after Sweden’s exit from Euro 2016. They were knocked out of the championships on 22 June. Under Fifa rules all players must have a minimum three-week rest after a tournament.
This means Ibrahimovic is available to take part in the eight-day tour of China but it is understood Mourinho may not take the player who turns 35 in October. The manager wants to give Ibrahimovic, who is on holiday in America, extra rest before the Premier League season.
After facing Borussia Dortmund on 23 July in Shanghai and Manchester City in Beijing three days later, United play Galatasaray on 30 July. As this is in Gothenburg, Mourinho may decide it is an apt venue for Ibrahimovic to play his first match for the club. If not, then Ibrahimovic will feature against Everton at Old Trafford on 3 August in Wayne Rooney’s testimonial.
United’s England contingent of Rooney, Chris Smalling and Marcus Rashford began their holiday after Roy Hodgson’s side were eliminated by Iceland on 27 June. While all three are expected to be named in the squad for China they will not feature, Mourinho has said.
Ilkay Gundogan, Mhkitaryan’s former Borussia Dortmund team-mate, has warned the Armenia captain may need careful managing at the start of his United career, having struggled when first joining the German club.
“He has been at Dortmund for three years,” said Gündogan, who is now at Manchester City. “The first two years were not so easy for him, to be honest. He’s a player who needs self-confidence, who needs to play every time and prove himself to get better and better. At this time we [Dortmund] were not so successful, so it was not easy for him to adapt. He had a few problems.
“But when you see how he played last year, it was really incredible. Maybe he was the most important player for us last year. If he can go on like this, he will have a big impact for Manchester United and a big plus. It’s difficult for us to beat them, of course, but I wish him the best and to stay healthy.”
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