Jose Mourinho has warned Zlatan Ibrahimovic that he must prove himself to be the best striker at Manchester United in order to start once he returns from injury.
The 35-year-old, who re-signed for United on a one-year deal earlier this week, is currently recovering after damaging ligaments in his knee in April.
His return will force Mourinho to choose between the Swedish star, £90m signing Romelu Lukaku and Marcus Rashford up front, and the United boss is adamant he will pick on form.
“Zlatan knows me and he knows that I play the players that I think are best for the team,” Mourinho said. “I have always done that.
“So if he comes here and he proves he is the best, he plays. If the other ones don’t give him a chance to prove that… that is life.
“But I try always to be honest with my players and with my team. Maybe sometimes I don’t always do the correct things but I try.”
Following the departure of Wayne Rooney to Everton, the signing of Ibrahimovic once again gives Mourinho three strikers to choose from and he feels that depth will be important if United are to challenge for trophies in multiple competitions this season.
Mourinho continued: “My squad is better for sure. It is one more option. It is one more striker. It is one more experienced player. It is one more player that can play nine or ten, that can play double strikers.
“We have lots of matches to play. If we progress in the Champions League and if we progress in one of the cups, we would be in a position where we couldn’t do it with only Lukaku and Rashford, especially if I play both together.
“If I play with both, I would need another striker so probably in January I would be knocking on Ed Woodward’s door asking for a striker for the second part of the season.
“Now I don’t need to knock on the door. I have one of the best in the world.”
Mourinho has been vocal in his desire to add a fourth summer signing to complement Lukaku, Nemanja Matic and Victor Lindelof.
Inter Milan’s Ivan Perisic was identified as a target, with Mourinho keen to add a left-sided player capable of playing at wing-back, but with the clubs unable to agree a fee for the Serbian international the United boss admits he may have to wait to address that position.
“Everyone knows I would like a fourth player and I cannot hide that because I had that in my mind,” Mourinho said.
“But I am happy if I am not going to have that and I don’t think I am going to have that. I was the first to tell my board not to feel any kind of pressure from me in that respect.
“Probably next summer, I will have to try and get a player from a position I think can make us stronger.”