Football

'Hot' Lindelof perfect for United

Ibrahimovic and Blomqvist back fellow Swede for Old Trafford move

It is not often that Zlatan Ibrahimovic sings the praises of another footballer.

So when the Swede superstar says that Manchester United target Victor Lindelof is "hot", the player must surely be of a certain quality.

Sky Sports sources in Portugal revealed that United have begun discussions with Benfica's president Luis Filipe Vieira over a £38-million (S$68m) move for the defender.

Ibrahimovic, 35, believes his fellow Swede has the talent to play for the world's top teams and gave his seal of approval for him to join United.

"He (Lindelof) is growing. He has a lot of responsibility with the national team now," Ibrahimovic said of the highly rated 22-year-old.

"Is he good enough for United? I think he is ready for the big clubs out there.

"It is up to him what he wants and what the situation says."

"Whatever he chooses, it will be good for him.

"I know he is hot on the market so let him make the right choice for him."

Lindelof has spent five years in Portugal, making his senior debut for Benfica in 2013 before going on to establish himself as a cornerstone of the first team.

Quick and athletic, Lindelof is an excellent reader of the game, strong in the tackle and comfortable with the ball at his feet.

After making his international debut in March, he quickly established himself as first choice for Sweden, starting all three games at Euro 2016.

Former United winger Jesper Blomqvist believes Lindelof is Sweden's version of Rio Ferdinand.

He told the Manchester Evening News: "I was watching the November match between Sweden and France on TV and caught a glimpse of Jose Mourinho in the stands.

"My first thought was that it could only be Victor Lindelof he was looking at.

"My second thought was what a great signing that would be for the player and Manchester United. It would be perfect.

"I have seen him play for the national Under-21s, the senior side and in the Champions League for Benfica and he has the right qualities.

"He's quick, confident with the ball, likes to play and is very strong. For United fans, I think the best comparisons would be with Rio Ferdinand and Ronny Johnsen.

"I'm not saying he is at their level yet but he is very capable of getting there. He's a mature player and a mature person."

DEFENSIVE REINFORCEMENT

With the injured Eric Bailly soon heading to the African Nations Cup with Ivory Coast and Chris Smalling not fully fit from a foot complaint, Lindelof is seen as a potential defensive reinforcement.

Blomqvist believes Lindelof can thrive at United.

"Obviously, a move to Manchester United is a different level," he said.

"Not every Swede is Zlatan Ibrahimovic, but you get the feeling that Victor can handle it.

"I don't think Mourinho is actually looking for someone to help them through a crisis.

"He wouldn't be going to England as a saviour for the defence.

As much as I think he is a mature lad and can handle pressure, I think that could only be a bonus for him."

Other than Lindelof, United are not expected to make huge January splurges like they did in the off-season when they signed Paul Pogba, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Eric Bailly for around £150m.

There is a feeling within Old Trafford that the team are not far away from clicking and that signing a clutch of players is not the answer.

Last week, Mourinho suggested that players would only arrive to fill the void of those seeking a move and it is understood that numerous clubs have contacted United regarding January moves for their players.

Memphis Depay and Morgan Schneiderlin have been strongly linked with Everton, while Bastian Schweinsteiger's future remains unclear despite his surprise return to the first-team fold. - WIRE SERVICES

Zlatan IbrahimovicManchester Unitedepl