Manchester United vs Watford - Mourinho expects Ibrahimovic to stay at United

Posted Saturday, February 11, 2017 by PA

Jose Mourinho is convinced Zlatan Ibrahimovic will still be at Old Trafford next season - a campaign the Manchester United manager believes could be the striker's last at the "highest level".

The 35-year-old has made a mockery of the doubters since arriving in the summer, with last weekend's strike against Leicester seeing him become the first United player since Sir Alex Ferguson's retirement to reach 20 goals.

Ibrahimovic has plenty of time to extend that record given United are still fighting on four fronts and it appears a matter of when rather than if the one-year option in his contract is triggered to extend his deal beyond the summer.

The striker has, though, been linked to Napoli, along with clubs in China and the United States - not that Mourinho imagines such a move will come to fruition.

"I'm totally convinced that he is going to stay," Mourinho said. "He came with the intention of staying two years.

"The first year is going - probably not in his mind because he is a very ambitious guy - better than every expectation.

"He knows that we are going to try again to improve next season and try to share with him in a fantastic way probably the last year of his career at the highest level, so I'm convinced that he's staying."

Mourinho's main focus right now is Saturday's clash with Watford at Old Trafford.

The Portuguese was infuriated by aspects of September's 3-1 loss at Vicarage Road - United's third defeat in the space of a week and what has been one of their worst displays of the campaign so far.

"They are very difficult," Mourinho said of Walter Mazzarri's side. "They are very defensive but there are teams that are very defensive but not very well organised. That's not Watford's case.

"Walter is a very good coach, the team is well organised and then they have the capacity being dangerous on the counter-attack and at set-pieces with a very physical team.

"Many players played already in big teams. They have the know-how, they have the experience."

Mazzarri is eager to keep Tom Cleverley at Vicarage Road beyond the end of the season.

The Hornets signed Cleverley on loan from Everton in January with a view to a permanent transfer and the midfielder has settled in quickly at his new club.

Watford have gone four Premier League matches unbeaten with Cleverley on the pitch, including back-to-back wins over Arsenal and Burnley, both of which the 27-year-old started.

Cleverley will be aiming to make it three from three against his old club Manchester United and Mazzarri hopes his new acquisition stays at Watford for good.

"I want to say Tom Cleverley has surprised me in a positive way in how well he managed to get in this environment," Mazzarri said.

"It seems like he has been playing for us since a long time. Of course it would make me very happy if he would stay here with us because he is not only a great player but we need him as well."

Watford are one of only three teams, along with Chelsea and Manchester City, to have beaten United this season.

"I want to underline, especially that if they lost only three games in the whole season, and one of them is against us, then this gives great value to our victory," Mazzarri said.

"We met them in another part of the season. The season is very long and I said after that game that a great manager like Jose Mourinho was going to do well with Manchester United.

"They come with 15 games with consecutive positive results where they have had eight victories. This tells you a lot about who we are going to play against."

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