Man Utd better without Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Paul Merson says on The Debate

Speaking on The Debate, Paul Merson argues Manchester United are a better team without Zlatan Ibrahimovic

Paul Merson believes Manchester United are a better side without Zlatan Ibrahimovic and are more likely to win the Premier League without him.

The Swede, who signed a one-year deal with United on Thursday, scored 28 goals last season in all competitions, before his initial one-year deal came to an end.

But Merson believes United are a different side this season, particularly with new striker Romelu Lukaku, and insists Ibrahimovic slowed things down in the final third for Jose Mourinho's side.

Ibrahimovic will wear the No 10 shirt after allowing Romelu Lukaku the No 9

Merson said on The Debate: "This man is a legend, I don't use that word loosely, he's an absolute legend, he's won titles in seven different countries, you don't do that by luck. But as time moves on now, Manchester United are a better team without him in it, and they've got a better chance of winning the Premier League without him.

"Don't get me wrong, I'm a massive fan of this lad over the years, I think he's been phenomenal.

"People said he was great last year, scored 28 goals, but Manchester United never looked like winning the Premier League last year.

"You look at them now, with him out of the team, you've got Paul Pogba, Romelu Lukaku, Marcus Rashford going forward, you've got Henrikh Mkhitaryan putting balls through the eye of a needle. They're playing 100mph, and so far nobody can live with them.

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"That wasn't them last season, they were too slow. Le Tiss and I have played No 10, and you need pace up front [in front of you], and if you haven't got pace, it's pointless playing a No 10, because there's not a lot you can do."

Ibrahimovic is still recovering from a serious knee injury, which cut short a superb debut season at Old Trafford in April.

Paul Pogba celebrates with Romelu Lukaku during Manchester United's 4-0 win at Swansea
Image: Romelu Lukaku could "go into his shell" when Ibrahimovic returns

The 35-year-old has posted regular, positive bulletins on his progress, and United have seen enough to sign him up until the end of the season.

But Merson also suggested that Ibrahimovic's return in the winter could have an adverse impact on Lukaku, who has hit the ground running at Old Trafford. Merse fears the Belgium international could "go into his shell" if he suffers a slight dip in form and is replaced by Ibrahimovic.

"Lukaku is top man now, you can see it on the pitch. That's going to change! He's got a big presence, Ibrahimovic, and he hasn't gone to United to sit on the bench.

"If Lukaku goes a couple games without scoring, the fans will be cheering Zlatan's name, and Lukaku could go into his shell, and we saw that last season in big football matches for Everton, he went into his shell.

"I don't think he's gone there to fizzle out and finish his career. When you watch them at the moment, United are a completely different side to last season. They break with real pace.

"Last season Zlatan was good, but nobody else was. That doesn't win you the Premier League, everybody has to be good. I just think he slowed the game down last season."

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