Zlatan Ibrahimovic fancies playing as a playmaker upon his return to action for Man Utd, saying: “I feel like a No.10.”
The 35-year-old spent last season in the centre-forward role for the Red Devils, scoring 28 goals in all competitions before his season was prematurely ended by a knee injury.
Now, with Romelu Lukaku recruited and handed the No.9 shirt, Ibrahimovic says he can play off the £75million Belgium striker upon his return to action, which could come this weekend.
“To me, No. 10 is the star,” Ibrahimovic said in a promotional video for Volvo. “The one who makes the difference, gets noticed, wins the matches and is the leader.
“And I see myself in that position but it is not something that is given to you; it is just something you are. That’s just the way it is.
“To be honest, it is like a trigger for me coming back from that injury because I wore the No. 10 in the Swedish national team and PSG. I would have worn it at Inter, but I soon moved to Barcelona. I wanted it in Milan but took another number out of respect. In Ajax I didn’t have it.
“I feel like a 10 and I stand for No. 10. It will go down in history that I always had No. 10.”
Ibrahimovic was injured during the Europa League quarter-final second leg against Anderlecht in April. The Swede recalled how his season was brought to an abrupt end.
“I tried to take down a ball with my chest and timed the landing wrong,” he said. “I stuck my legs out and landed completely wrong. The leg went backwards and then it was pulled out. I have never been hurt, but then I felt I swallowed my tongue. It was a strange feeling that I had never known before.
“I told myself it’s just a bang-up. But when I got up, I felt that the leg was not in balance. In the locker room they started to check the leg, but without an X-ray it was impossible to say exactly what the problem was. It turned out to be a cruciate ligament injury.
“Thoughts started spinning in my head. What’s happening? It’s a month before the season is over.
“I’m 35 years old; what can I do? What does the future hold?
“Instead of focusing on one thing at a time, like normally, a lot of things were spinning around in my mind.”
There were concerns that the injury might end Ibrahimovic’s career but the Swede insists his mental strength helped him through the seven-month rehabilitation.
“Mentally, you must accept that it will take time, have patience and continue training at the pace the situation requires,” he said.
“I watched TV all the time and saw how everyone else was playing. I saw my own team play and I wanted to be there.
“I’ve been there for 15 years and this was the first time I’d had a major injury, so it was all new to me. But day by day I learn and I grow stronger every day.
“I can’t influence things physically, but I can influence them mentally, and that’s where I’m strong.”