Incredible Ibrahimovic is Messi's equal, claims Crerand

The Manchester United legend is backing the Swedish striker to end 2016 with more club goals than the tally mustered by Barcelona's talismanic Argentine.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s goal-scoring exploits for Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester United in 2016 show that he is ‘the equal’ of Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi, according to Paddy Crerand.

The Swedish striker was on target again for the Red Devils on Boxing Day and now has 50 club efforts for the calendar year.

That return places him just one behind Argentine icon Messi and six ahead of Ballon d’Or winner Cristiano Ronaldo.

Ibrahimovic could leap to the top of the list on New Year’s Eve as he still has one more fixture to take in, while his rivals for the crown in La Liga are taking in a winter break.

United are due to host Middlesbrough on Saturday, and Crerand is backing a talismanic figure to deliver the goods once again.

He considers Ibrahimovic – who is now 35 years of age – to be ‘incredible’ and, as an Old Trafford legend hoping to see the club prosper once more, wishes the enigmatic frontman was 10 years younger.

Crerand said in the Daily Mirror: “If you ask anyone who’s the best player in the world they would probably say Messi and his feat shows he’s the equal of him.

“I must admit I didn’t realise just how good he is, but seeing him every week, he’s just incredible.

“What I like about him is his intelligence, his football brain. His fitness levels are unbelievable and I just wish he was 25!

“He must be a pleasure to play with and for someone who is a midfield player, to have him playing in front of you with his imagination, must be tremendous.”

Ibrahimovic’s record of 12 goals in his opening 17 Premier League appearances can only be bettered in United colours by Ruud van Nistelrooy, but Crerand believes the Swede’s achievements are greater than those of his Dutch predecessor due to the calibre of colleagues he is playing with.

He added: “If you look at when Ruud joined United, he was fortunate to play with some of the very best players ever to play for the club,” said the 1968 European Cup winner.

“Some of the current players may become the equal of them, but for Zlatan to have 17 goals already is a phenomenal achievement.”


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