My piece for the Boot Room on the one and only Zlatan.
Thirteen league titles, sixteen domestic cups, one European title and one world title amassed in four countries. Numerous individual awards and records. Dazzling goals, assists and overall play. Zlatan Ibrahimovic has it all.
The 35-year-old Swedish striker is the ultimate journeyman footballer.
Ibrahimovic has played for eight of the biggest clubs in the world during his career and no one can say he failed at any stop. Those titles, accolades and his generally excellent play are why he is the greatest forward of his generation.
Some may not like Zlatan’s arrogance and bravado but few, especially now after his short time in the Premier League, can deny the player’s greatness. As with any player, legend or otherwise, Zlatan has his fair share of critics. The main knock against him is that every team has played on has won the Champions League before, or after, his arrival. Some would say he is not a team player considering his attitude but the player himself knocks down such assertions.
In his latest sojourn, the Manchester United forward stated in an interview with ManUtd.com that his focus is on the team first. It’s hard to argue against that when you consider the results. Zlatan is a serial winner. One could argue that success was inevitable given the teams he has played on and the players he has played with but Zlatan was a key part of all those teams. His last three stops, Milan, Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester United have also showcased some of the leadership abilities of the big Swede.
Zlatan’s one regret, if it comes to pass, will be the lack of a Champions League medal. Another criticism that comes hand in hand with that is a perceived failure to perform in the biggest games. Goals in De Klassieker in Netherlands, Derby della Madonnina and Derby d’Italia in Italy, El Clásico and the Catalan Derby in Spain, Le Classique in France, Manchester Derby and North-West Derby in England offer a solid argument against that.
Zlatan possesses a unique array of skills that none of his contemporaries can match. The likes of Thierry Henry, Michael Owen, Samuel Eto’o have all made their mark in various ways. It’s Zlatan’s mix of physical, technical and mental skills, along with his long list of trophies, which suggest he will go down as one of the game’s greatest players. Among the number of great forwards to illuminate the game after Ronaldo, “El Fenomeno if we must clarify, Zlatan is ahead. The fact that, at 35 years old, he can still be in the conversation against the likes of Sergio Aguero, Diego Costa, Edinson Cavani and Robert Lewandowski among others is astounding.
No other forward could have the durability and mental strength to jump into Premier League in its current state at 35 and perform so well.
A Premier League title looks highly unlikely at this point in the season but we’ve seen enough to suggest Zlatan will play his part in the challenge. The Manchester United forward still has a chance at three trophies this season with the EFL Cup, the FA Cup and Europa League still to come. It wouldn’t be surprising to see his contract renewed for another year given his play so far and the likelihood of a trophy. A Premier League title would cement his legacy even further but his work so far speaks for itself.
Things were always going to be more difficult on the international stage despite Sweden having plenty of talent in his earlier years. Still, Zlatan is the country’s top goalscorer and certainly had his moments of brilliance as shown by his goals against Italy and England.
Zlatan has always been among the goals at his various clubs and was only below single digits a few times early in his career. Per Soccerbase.com the Swedish striker had a ratio of 0.62 goals per game in league play and 0.5 goals per game in other competitions in his club career. He was not always about goals though as his Ajax upbringing ensured he liked to be involved in his side’s buildup. His mixture of strength and technical skills made this quite easy and that side of his game has been on display more in recent seasons.
Even if we take away the two Juventus titles due to Calciopoli scandal, Zlatan still has 11 league trophies in four countries. If he stays with United beyond this season then he has the chance to make it 12 in five. Zlatan didn’t need to move to England to prove anything given his career so far but he’s definitely added plenty to his story so far at Manchester United.
Zlatan did what Zlatan does to the French league for four years. Hard to argue against him being a Ligue 1 and Paris Saint-Germain legend. His last season was arguably his best which makes it even more crazy. It would be fascinating to see what/how he does at Manchester United if that happens.
Yeah, I really don’t think this argument can fly. If there was more to it than Zlatan’s personality being an issue then maybe. There are mentions of him not fitting into certain teams etc. but they don’t seem to be major views in the author’s thinking and they really aren’t. I also don’t see Zlatan as troublesome as the author suggests. He speaks his mind a lot more than other players but I can’t recall any incident that was so extremely harmful to him or his team. Yes, there have been multiple incidents but I don’t there’s been nothing on the Diego Costa or Luis Suarez level. So. Yeah.
As always, humourous and brilliant from Iain Macintosh. Oh what fun it would be to see the man Zlatan in the Premier League. For who though? Arsenal’s out for sure. Liverpool too due to Klopp’s preferred style even if the article suggests Zlatan would play for him. Pep Guardiola wouldn’t want a second stint with him. It seems it would be either Manchester United or Chelsea.
Sure, that move makes sense.
One can never get enough Zlatan. Brilliant piece here on the PSG man.
Very good piece here. It seems like a no-brainer that Manchester City will keep Sergio Aguero but the author makes a very good point about Paris Saint-Germain showing more progress. Aguero could elevate a lot of his possible future teammates in contrast to Zlatan Ibrahimovic seemingly hindering them.
A possible saga to watch out for.
Not sure if I agree entirely when considering the present Barcelona team.
In Neymar and Luis Suarez Barca have added that more direct thrust they needed in attack that Zlatan Ibrahimovic would’ve given. They are also quicker and more likely to beat players one on one. The only thing really missing is the power and aerial threat Zlatan would bring.
If Zlatan’s two goals against Arsenal were indicative of the more direct approach he brought then one can look at Suarez’s winner against Real Madrid as a response.
An interesting social piece looking at Sweden and Zlatan Ibrahimovic.