What Effect Will Ibrahimovic’s Champions League Return have on £90m man Romelu Lukaku?

The in Manchester United’s 25-man Champions League squad certainly came as a surprise to many. It had been previously expected that the forward, who is recovering from a cruciate ligament injury sustained in April’s Europa League clash with Anderlecht, would remain out of action until the New Year. However, it now seems that the veteran striker, who turns 36 next month, has a chance of featuring in the group stages of the competition.

Having taken possession of former since recommitting to the Old Trafford club last month, the former Swedish international will be keen to regain his place in the United starting XI. And what better place than to make his return than on the European stage? With so much experience at this level behind him, United boss Jose Mourinho may be tempted to start him as soon as he is fit enough to play. But where does that leave new signing Romelu Lukaku?

The Red Devils were perhaps too reliant on Ibrahimovic’s goals last season so the recruitment of the £90m Belgian striker from Everton brought sighs of relief from the Old Trafford faithful. But there are legitimate questions as to whether the two players can function together as an attacking unit. As a result, it may transpire that Mourinho will decide to rotate his front men or, as suggested by the change of shirt number, find a .

One thing is sure, with the addition of the exciting and young striker, and the return of the vastly experienced veteran, United will be better equipped to do battle on several fronts this term. There was a danger that progression to the latter stages of the domestic cups as well as the knockout stages of the Champions League could have overstretched the front two of Lukaku and Marcus Rashford. And, in that sense, the re-signing of the former Milan and Paris Saint-Germain legend has certainly nipped in the bud a transfer conundrum that may have arisen in January.

But, perhaps more than that, it has helped to retain a positive dressing room influence that could be crucial should any pressure situations manifest later in the season. And, for a young player like Lukaku, the chance to compete for a position or feature alongside a player of such stature provides a unique opportunity that should help him develop.

So, what kind of impact will Zlatan have on the elite European stage this term? makes interesting reading. Bookmaker bet365 are offering a massive 100/1 on the Swede finishing top scorer in this year’s Champions League competition, which may seem like good value at first glance.

But the reality is that the Swede is not expected to play such a prominent role this term. He may feature in a deeper role, make an impact from the bench, or be used in a rotation depending on his form and fitness. Of course, the player himself may not see it that way and his towering ego is unlikely to allow him to settle for a supporting role without a fight.