London: Manchester United are prepared to delay the signing of Zlatan Ibrahimovic on a free transfer until next month so that the striker can collect a large loyalty bonus from Paris St-Germain.
Ibrahimovic told reporters at a launch of his new A-Z fashion range that they would have to be patient before finding out where he would play next season. The 34-year-old and his agent, Mino Raiola, have held positive talks with United about signing for manager Jose Mourinho at Old Trafford, but there is a lucrative reason why the pair may be keen to hold off on confirming the deal.
Ibrahimovic and Raiola are both due a large loyalty bonus from PSG should the forward see out his contract, which expires on June 30.
At that point, Ibrahimovic officially becomes a free agent and United are prepared to hand him a one-year contract worth pounds 250,000 (Dh1.3 million) a week, with the option of a further 12 months.
Ibrahimovic had planned to confirm his club future ahead of Sweden’s Euro 2016 opener against the Republic of Ireland in Paris on Monday, but the former Juventus, Barcelona and Inter Milan player is confident a deal with United is in place and it just needs signing once his PSG contract is completed.
Asked about his next destination in Paris, Ibrahimovic said: “There is no confirmation. No saying, ‘Yes’. You will have to be patient with me. I want you to keep wondering where I will go. Keep making stories, and when I am tired I will let you know when my next destination is.”
He added: “My future is A-Z. There will also be A-Z in Manchester.”
On his decision not to stay at PSG, with whom he won four league titles but not the Champions League, Ibrahimovic said: “If I wanted, I could have stayed five more years. There comes a point when you have done everything. Mission accomplished.”
Ibrahimovic hit 50 goals in 51 appearances for PSG last season and is viewed by Mourinho as the man to solve United’s goalscoring problems and help the development of Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford.
Although they did not work together for long at Inter, Mourinho and Ibrahimovic have remained close friends over the past seven years, with the Swede even helping to settle a dispute between the Portuguese and West Bromwich Albion defender Jonas Olsson.
Mourinho had called Olsson a “Mickey Mouse player” during a tunnel bust-up in 2013, but Ibrahimovic later acted as peacemaker by sending the then Chelsea manager a picture message of himself and Olsson giving a thumbs-up. United are closing in on the capture of Ivory Coast defender Eric Bailly from Villarreal.
Bailly arrived in Manchester to undergo a medical on Wednesday ahead of a pounds 30 million move and the 22-year-old’s signing could be finalised this week. Bayern Munich, Barcelona, Paris St-Germain and Arsenal have all watched Bailly, but United moved quickest. Mourinho also wants to sign Juventus midfielder Paul Pogba. The France midfielder has the same agent as Ibrahimovic.