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There is an intrigue in Zlatan Ibrahimovic's return to Manchester United.

It's not the same as the last time he signed a contract at Old Trafford -- the questions then were more about whether a man well into his 30s could do it in the Premier League.

This time the uncertainty is about how much he will play coming back, as he is, from a serious knee injury to compete for a place with a £75 million striker in Romelu Lukaku, who is 11 years his junior and has scored four goals in four competitive games so far this season.

But Michael Andersson, who coached Ibrahimovic at his first club Malmo, insists Jose Mourinho's attraction to the forward is not just based on what he can do on the pitch.

"He had a good influence at United during the year he was there and I think it could be a spectacular comeback," Andersson, who managed Malmo between 2000 and 2001, told ESPN FC.

"He can come back but it is a lot of work for him to come back at his age. I think also it is not just about doing a good job on the pitch, it's also about helping the squad and the coach with his character.

"He wasn't that when he was young but when you see him from the outside, you can see the big influence he has on the club and on the other players, especially when Mourinho was new at the club. It is a big plus for Mourinho to have help from Zlatan."

Mourinho insists Ibrahimovic will not be ready to play until January, although he is set to be included in United's Champions League squad when it is submitted to UEFA this week.

"I'm not surprised he has re-signed for United, but perhaps a little surprised he has signed so early after his injury, yes," Andersson added.

"He has shown a spectacular recovery."

Michael Andersson coached a young Zlatan Ibrahimovic at Malmo.

Mourinho's plan is for Ibrahimovic to give United a midseason boost.

Sir Alex Ferguson did something similar with another Swede, Henrik Larsson, in January 2007.

Larsson, then 36, scored three goals in 13 games on loan from Helsingborg, as United went on to lift their first title in four years and progressed to the semi-finals of the Champions League.

It is in Europe that Andersson believes Ibrahimovic can make the biggest contribution this season, especially with United's other strikers, Lukaku and Marcus Rashford, new to the Champions League.

He added: "This time he is not playing the whole season. Maybe he can play a big role in the big moments this season, especially if they have the possibility of advancing in the Champions League.

"He played a lot of matches in his first season at United. I don't think he is going to play that much in the spring, but he can be the difference and help a lot."

Ibrahimovic was only a teenager when Andersson, a former Sweden international, had him in Malmo's dressing room.

He was soon sold to Ajax, before spells at Juventus, Inter, Barcelona, Milan and Paris Saint-Germain that each garnered league titles.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic made his Sweden international debut will he was at Malmo.

Andersson believes the striker, who will turn 36 in October, has got better with age.

He remembers a player so desperate to be involved he would burn valuable energy trying to find the ball.

And he insists Ibrahimovic's biggest achievement is getting the best out of a talent that he saw flashes of as a coach in southern Sweden more than 15 years ago.

"He has changed a lot over the years," he said.

"He has developed so he can help the team and see the important things for the team more and more.

"We thought he had the raw materials but we also knew it was a big step and a lot of things can happen in a career. But he saw that he had everything you need to be a big player. At that time, for him, it was how to handle the talent.

"The last five or six years he has learned how to use his talent more and more effectively. He has learnt to play in the box and not use so much energy all over the pitch. When he was young he would run all over the pitch."

Rob is ESPN FC's Manchester United correspondent. Follow him on Twitter @RobDawsonESPN.

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