Zlatan's impact on Man Utd is comparable to Eric Cantona's, claims club legend
Neville believes Zlatan Ibrahimovic has the same aura about him as Eric Cantona (Getty)

Zlatan Ibrahimovic was the difference once again as Manchester United beat Southampton in the EFL Cup final on Sunday.

The Swede scored two – including the dramatic winner three minutes from time – as United won 3-2 and picked up their second trophy of the season.

Speaking after the game, former United defender Phil Neville claimed the 35-year-old has instantly become one of the best players in England.

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‘He’s an absolute animal. It’s getting to that time where we’re talking about the best player in the Premier League and he’s up there,’ Neville said in the Sky Sports studio.

So important has the 35-year-old been this season that Class of ’92 graduate Neville claimed he has become one of manager Jose Mourinho’s most trusted lieutenants.

phil-neville
Neville heaped praise on Ibrahimovic after his performance in the EFL Cup final (Sky Sports)

‘When you’re a manager and you join a new club you need one person in that dressing room that sings out of your hymn sheet and I think Zlatan is that leader,’ Neville said.

‘I know Rooney lifted the cup but I think Zlatan is the leader on the pitch.’

The road to the EFL Cup final at Wembley

Man Utd

Round 3: Northampton (A) – 3-1
Round 4: Man City (H) – 1-0
Round 5: West Ham (H) – 4-1
SF 1: Hull City (H) – 2-0
SF 2: Hull City (A) – 1-2

Southampton

Round 3: Crystal Palace (H) – 2-0
Round 4: Sunderland (H) – 1-0
Round 5: Arsenal (A) – 2-0
SF 1: Liverpool (H) – 1-0
SF 2: Liverpool (A) – 1-0

Pressed by fellow pundit Jamie Redknapp whether he was comparable to club legend Eric Cantona, Neville was unequivocal.

‘Cantona, when he walked on pitch with his collar up, you thought ‘I love Old Trafford’ – he had the aura and he had the confidence,’ Neville said.

‘[Zlatan’s] the same, you see his interviews after the game.

‘Sometimes you hate people who have that much arrogance but I actually love that arrogance because he actually delivers at the same time as well.’

MORE: Zlatan Ibrahimovic has lifted 28 trophies since Arsenal last won the Premier League