Ibrahimovic has signed a new one-year contract at United and will return to Jose Mourinho’s squad when he has fully recovered from his knee injury.
Ferdinand reckons keeping the Swede will prove vital to the Red Devils as he can help the younger members of their squad.
Ferdinand likened the role Ibrahimovic will play to how some of United’s greatest players helped him when he arrived at Old Trafford.
He told BT Sport: “He came here, many people doubted him, me being one of them whether he could do it here at this age.
“He did in terms of goals but I think more importantly he’ll be important for the Rashfords, the Martials, the Lukakus.
“He’ll be important for the Rashfords, the Martials, the Lukakus”
Rio Ferdinand on Zlatan Ibrahimovic,
“They haven’t got a title between them. He’s got more than anyone in this squad and I think moments in January, February, when they’re sticky periods in the season and people are getting tired you’ve got someone like this to come in, to really come in to big situations and take control, be calm enough, understand the situation and guide these young players through.
“My first season at Man United I had never won a trophy. You get to about January time, just after the New Year and ‘what do we do now?’
“’Do we go for it every game? Do we take out foot off the peddle a bit? Do we make sure we ghost into games to see how games pan out? Or do we go full throttle first minute?’
“I’m looking to Roy Keane, to Gary Neville, to Ryan Giggs for the experience, the guidance, of how we approach certain games.”
Fellow pundit Owen Hargreaves added: “He’s a world class player, he scored a ton of goals last season and I think he’s a mentor.
“I’m sure Zlatan’s presence in that dressing room is going to have a massive impact for some of these younger United players.
“He’ll score 15 goals from January. From January on he will get them goals and be a leader for them as well.
“Having people that have won is massive, helping the next generation.”