Zlatan Ibrahimovic's mental strength is vital for Man Utd, says Premier League Daily panel
By Allan Valente
Last Updated: 27/02/17 12:23pm
Zlatan Ibrahimovic's mental strength is absolutely vital for the Manchester United dressing room, according to Ray Wilkins.
The Swede scored twice, including an 87th-minute winner, as United beat Southampton 3-2 in the EFL Cup final at Wembley on Sunday to give Jose Mourinho his first major trophy as manager of the Old Trafford side.
Wilkins told Premier League Daily that Ibrahimovic reminded him of the strong characters he coached at Chelsea and believes his personality draws admiration from his United team-mates.
"The important thing when you play with the big clubs is the mental strength. This guy is so mentally tough that no-one can beat him. He knows that and he feels that when he goes on the pitch," Wilkins said.
"You can't put a price on what a player like him will give to a dressing room. I was fortunate to work at Chelsea with the likes of John Terry, Frank Lampard, the Cole's, Drogba and the dressing room was theirs. They ran the dressing room and he will be doing exactly the same.
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"It's his character. When you play at big clubs you need to have a personality and this guy has it in abundance. If you look at those shots after the game, every player was around him and smothering him with adoration.
"I saw when they went in front he got the guys together as a group and he was having a little chat with them and this was the situation. I just think the guy has got so much personality.
"Jose never buys potential, or brings in potential. Jose brings in proven [players]. And this guy is probably the most proven footballer in world football, he has won everywhere he has been."
Ibrahimovic has won league titles in the Netherlands, Italy, Spain and France and Wilkins says the 35-year-old's positional sense helps to make him so clinical in front of goal.
"He has played his football at the best clubs in the world, therefore, this guy hasn't only been with Jose, he's been with the top coaches in world football. He obviously has an amazing ability to keep himself fit," he said.
"When you watch Zlatan play, he plays when the ball is in his area. He's not a Wayne Rooney who sacrifices himself all over the pitch, he plays when it is in his area and is very effective at what he does.
"You can't get near him, when he receives the ball he just brings other players into the game so comfortably."
Fellow Premier League Daily guest Frank Sinclair said there are similarities between Ibrahimovic and Eric Cantona and their respective roles at Manchester United.
"I think Man Utd have had some top centre forwards over the years but I don't think they've had a character like him since Cantona," he said.
"The way he has walked into that dressing room with his chest out and said 'don't worry boys, I'll lead you to wherever we've got to go' and that's the type of character he is."