Zlatan Premier League bound?
This summer is promising to be an important moment in the careers of several high-profile players, with contracts expiring, coaches changing, and the happiness of certain players in certain leagues being questioned. Amongst the world’s elite, the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Eden Hazard and Zlatan Ibrahimovic could well find themselves part of a transfer merry-go-round. The last of those players mentioned, the mercurial Swede, has long been touted as a target for many a Premier League club, and 2016 could well finally mark the arrival of one of the world’s most enigmatic and outspoken talents to English shores.
Out of contract
The 34-year-old Paris Saint-Germain striker is out of contract at the Parc des Princes, and as recently as January his agent, Mino Raiola said,
“I would like to see him in the Premier League. I think it’s a game that is made for him with his strength, his ability, his technique, the stadiums with fantastic atmosphere and how football is lived.” However, at the same time added “What we will do at the end, I really don’t know.”
What remains certain is that Zlatan will not be retiring, as he stated a matter of days ago that he was only ‘warming up,’ and proved with his goal-scoring exploits at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday night that the magic remains. Indeed, Ibra has an impressive 23 goals from only 21 starts in Ligue 1 this campaign (along with 10 assists, securing him a Whoscored.com rating of 8.07 – the fourth highest score in Europe this season), with a further 4 goals and 3 assists in 8 Champions League games. It seems the Number 10 certainly still has plenty left to offer.
Zlatan’s flirtations with the Premier League in the past
This is of course not the first time the mercurial Swede has been linked with the Premier League. Indeed, as a fresh faced 16 year old the youthful Ibra was offered a trial by Arsene Wenger, who had recognised his talent at an early stage. Zlatan was not impressed however, retorting that he ‘did not do trials,’ and promptly ended up at Ajax, where a certain Louis Van Gaal was technical director. Not that the Dutchman is Zlatan’s favourite character either. Whilst reminiscing about his time in Amsterdam in his autobiography, the Swede noted that Van Gaal “wanted to be a dictator, without a hint of a gleam in his eye.”
Chelsea have long been reported to be targets, but it seems there may just be a little too much water under the bridge for both parties. Zlatan was sent off at Stamford Bridge last season in a particularly bad-tempered Champions League affair, with the Chelsea players’ hounding the referee to brandish the Swede’s marching orders. Asked before this season’s game if the Chelsea players were likely to act like “men’ this time, Ibra responded “Let’s see. The last game we played they were no indications of that.”
And then there is Manchester City, who will be welcoming Pep Guardiola as new boss in the summer. Ibra, of course, played under Guardiola at Barcelona for only a short period in 2009-10, but again in his autobiography had very little positive to say about his old coach. “Whatever happened, as a coach he was fantastic. “As a person, I have no comments about that. That is something else. He is not a man. There’s nothing more to say.” The Swedish striker also branded the Spaniard a” spineless coward.”
Perhaps Liverpool then?
Zlatan Betting – To sign for before 3rd September 2016
Manchester United – 4.00
Any Chinese Club – 7.00
Any MLS Club – 8.00
Arsenal – 9.00
Chelsea – 13.00
Liverpool – 19.00
Manchester City – 21.00
Odds courtesy of SkyBet and correct as of 12/03/16
By: Steven Paget