The enigma that is Zlatan Ibramhimovic, has graced the best stadiums all over Europe. Like a fine wine he gets better with age, yet his arrogance represents everything that is hated about the modern day footballer, but that doesn’t stop him.
He’s played for the biggest clubs in Holland, Italy, Spain and now France, but has never plied his trade in England, his opportunity to do so may have come a bit early, but it should have been a sign of things to come when the young Swede told Arsene Wenger that “Zlatan doesn’t do auditions.” Arrogance or confidence? You be the judge.
I have not always been an admirer of Ibrahimovic, and today his character is still called into question, but at the ripe old age of 32, he is consistently playing football at the highest level, and is the main man for club and country. You can question his confidence, but you cannot question his ability.
Starting at Malmo, then moving to Ajax, Ibrahimovic eventually earned a high profile move to Juventus, where his goals per game ratio took a turn for the worst. This subsequently led to another big money move to Inter Milan. At Inter, the team he supported as a youngster, he found his home, scoring 57 goals in 88 games. But this was the Italian league, a league that has produced world class strikers that have flattered to deceive in more competitive leagues across Europe. Ibrahimovic was about to follow suit.
A move followed that only an exceptional few would live up to; he was sold to Barcelona, in exchange for Samuel Eto’o and 46 million euros, a deal which still perplexes me to this day. Eto’o had only recently set Barcelona on their way to Champions League glory, but the swap was sealed. From the very beginning Ibrahimvoic struggled, he never quite fitted into Pep Guardiola’s ideologies, and his strong presence up front, ideal as a target man, was lost in and amongst the likes of Messi, Iniesta and Xavi, who’s trickery and movement never quite played to Zlatan’s strengths. He inevitably clashed with Guardiola, and never quite rewarded Barcelona for the confidence, and lunacy, they showed in bringing him to the Camp Nou. Samuel Eto’o on the other hand went onto win the treble with Inter Milan. If the deal however was to be struck now, I would say that 46 million is short of the mark, how times can change!
In 2010, AC Milan confirmed the loan signing of Ibrahimovic for the entirety of the 2010/2011 season, and then bought him a year later. His time in Spain was over, and he was probably the most relieved. He was back home in Milan, playing for the Rossoneri, Internazionale’s bitter rivals. 42 goals in 61 games meant that his short but successful spell playing for AC Milan earned him yet another big money move to an emerging goliath in France. He has since gone onto average nearly a goal a game for the Parisians, and is playing the best football of his career, whilst maintaining his modesty!
With the spending power PSG possess, Ibrahimovic’s stay in Paris looks to be for the long haul, but it would be a travesty if the talisman that is Zlatan, never charms the English Premier League. He is a true great, and alongside the likes of Pirlo, Giggs and Zanetti, he has shown that age does not define a player.