In a world where truly great no. 9s are hard to come by, one such 33-year-old might just be on the market and available on the cheap. The transfer fees paid for him by the numerous clubs for whom he has played are collectively in the region of a 160 million, a truly staggering amount. So, while he may be entering the twilight of his career, there is no denying that he still remains one of the best strikers currently in the game.
As a teenager, Zlatan Ibrahimovic was close to moving to Arsenal FC, before Arsene Wenger did the unthinkable and requested a trial of the 19-year-old. How many 19-year-olds give trials, after all? And he followed the Frenchman’s request with these famous words- a Zlatan doesna t do auditionsa . This was when the legend of Zlatan Ibrahimovic was born.
Having played for Paris Saint-Germain for the past 3 years, the Swede has scored an incredible 106 goals in 126 appearances. However, it has been reported in various sections of the media that the French champions are ready to move Ibrahimovic on in order to play a younger Edinson Cavani in his preferred central striker role.
Cavani, who remains the costliest Ligue 1 import of all time, has had to play second fiddle to Ibrahimovic for the past two years and has been linked with a move away from Paris in nearly every transfer window during this period.
. AC Milan, Manchester United or Arsenal FC?
Coming back to Ibrahimovic, the Swede has garnered interest from some of the biggest clubs in Europe, not all of whom can afford his astronomical wages. However, those who can, and those that are in need of a world class No. 9 have been linked with him this summer. This includes his former club AC Milan, English giants Manchester United and Arsenal FC. Although the 33-year-old has remained coy over his future, chances are that he would be moving away from France sooner rather than later. So where exactly would Ibrahimovic move?
If there is one thing missing from Zlatan’s illustrious CV, it is the elusive Champions League and the Swede would be looking to have another proper go at it before hanging up his boots. Now, age might not have affected the former FC Barcelona striker’s not-so-industrious style of play, but it certainly has had an affect on his fitness levels. Out of the three clubs that he has been linked with, it’s the English clubs that provide him with a better chance of competing in the Champions League than the fallen Italian giants AC Milan – who do not even feature in this year’s Europa League.
Milan have been a long term admirers of their former striker and their president has released many statements in the recent past about trying their best to sign Zlatan. The club have already signed two strikers in this window (Bacca and Luiz Adriano) and a move for Ibrahimovic sounds unlikely and honestly does not make much sense.
Coming to England and the two clubs linked with a move for Ibrahimovic. Manchester United have Wayne Rooney and Javier Hernandez in their ranks as true strikers, although question marks remain over the ability of Chicharito to lead the line on his own and it is possible that the Mexican will be used as a super-sub through-out his Old Trafford career.
Rooney on the other hand is capable of playing as the lone center forward in Louis Van Gaal’s system, but the 29-year-old has looked out of his depth and bereft of ideas in his new position. Rooney has played as the central striker for the Red Devils for many years. However, for the past three years, he has not been trusted with the opportunity to lead the line.
The 29-year-old has played mainly as the second striker, behind more accomplished finishers in the mould of Robin van Persie and Radamel Falcao. This has taken its toll on the English international and Manchester United will probably need another world class striker if they are to challenge Chelsea FC and Manchester City for the domestic title and the European big boys for the coveted Champions League. Zlatan, at the age of 33, does not provide the ideal long-term solution to this problem, but in a world where truly world class center forwards are hard to come by, he may just prove to be the best stop-gap solution that the Old Trafford outfit can recruit.
Can Zlatan and Arsenal FC help each other win the elusive Champions League?
Arsene Wenger has often name-dropped several great footballers that he was so close to signing, and Zlatan is one of those. The striker could have joined the Frenchman as a 19-year-old, but as luck would have it, it was not meant to be. However, Zlatan and Arsenal FC could well be a match made in heaven, where the two parties involved could help each other realize their ultimate goal- Champions League.
Arsenal FC for all their domestic success have never won the Champions League and currently have a squad capable of challenging for top honours, but not good enough to actually win it. The Gunners have been criticized for lacking the winning mentality in their squad and there have also been complaints of a lack of big game players. Zlatan for all his callous attitude and poor work-rate has a reputation of scoring on the biggest and grandest stages.
The Swede also has an imposing attitude and style of play which can prove to be effective for the Gunners, who are often criticized for the lack of physicality in their side. The Gunners have Olivier Giroud, Danny Welbeck and Theo Walcott in their ranks who can play in the central role, however, none have the pedigree of Ibrahimovic.
The North London club have been touted to be one of the challengers for this year’s Barclays Premier League title and should they be successful in their pursuit of Ibrahimovic, they may finally have a squad capable of actually winning the title – a feat last achieved by them in the famous campaign of 2003-04.