Report: Ibrahimovic suffered serious ligament damage, likely out until 2018

Andrew Yates / Reuters

Zlatan Ibrahimovic is reportedly unlikely to take the pitch again until next year.

Ibrahimovic suffered serious ligament damage in his right knee and is likely sidelined until January 2018 at the earliest, sources told ESPN FC's Mark Ogden, casting doubt on the Swedish striker's future at Manchester United.

He apparently underwent scans Friday that confirmed the initial fears of Jose Mourinho and the club's medical staff. The prognosis is reportedly surgery followed by a rehabilitation programme.

Ibrahimovic was injured in Thursday's win over RSC Anderlecht in the Europa League's quarter-finals. He went down awkwardly in second-half stoppage time and appeared to twist his right knee, but ultimately exited by walking off the pitch rather than needing a stretcher.

Ogden's report followed one from Sky Sports earlier Friday that indicated Ibrahimovic is expected to miss the rest of United's season.

The product of Malmo FF put pen to paper on a one-year deal upon joining the Red Devils on a free transfer, and holds an option for another year. ESPN FC sources at Old Trafford have been unable to confirm whether the club is obligated to give the player the extended contract following his injury.

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Without Ibrahimovic, United will have to try and complete its mission of winning the Europa League without its top scorer in all competitions. The tournament is a priority for Jose Mourinho, and the Red Devils are the outstanding favourites in a quartet that includes Olympique Lyonnais, Celta Vigo, and AFC Ajax.

The draw for the Europa League's semi-finals took place Friday and pitted United against Celta.

United's dependence on Ibrahimovic means the Red Devils will have to come up with alternative means of scoring. He manufactures chances out of nothing when the club lacks creativity, disguising Mourinho's safe approach.

Speaking after United defeated Anderlecht in extra time, Mourinho expressed pessimism over the injuries suffered by Marcos Rojo and Ibrahimovic, saying: "I want to wait but my feeling is not good, for both. I want to try to be optimistic but I'm not. I don't think they are easy injuries but I prefer to wait until all the tests are done tomorrow. After tomorrow then I can speak what I feel because I am a manager, not a doctor."