A number of English Premier League outfits are reportedly in a bun-fight for the signature of Zlatan Ibrahimovic but the Swedish striker has warned that joining a new club would have to feel “like a marriage” for him to even consider tying the knot.
There is a romantic feel about this transfer speculation news that few other players, if any, in world football would be able to emulate.
Ibrahimovic currently plays in the amorous city of Paris where he has now won four consecutive Ligue 1 titles with Paris Saint-Germain. Prior to that, he also claimed league silverware with Ajax (twice), Juventus (twice), Inter Milan (thrice), Barcelona (once) and AC Milan (once).
With his contract at PSG running out in the summer, Ibrahimovic is keen on a move to England and that news has got a number of clubs in a spin and their respective fans feeling love-sick.
“There is interest from the Premier League,” he said.
“But it would have to be like a marriage, both sides have to want it as much.
“For the moment, I will not be at PSG next season. I still have a month and a half left here.
“If they replace the Eiffel Tower with a statue of me, then I will stay.”
So, barring any drastic architectural alternations to the French capital, it’s fair to assume that Ibrahimovic’s relationship with PSG is over… but what club in England is most likely to be the best match for a fiery fling with the 34-year-old before he calls time on his career.
Boy, this would be one helluva story.
After yet another promising season seems to be fizzling out into a mediocre campaign without a trophy, The Gunners will be under pressure to make high-profile signings this summer and Ibrahimovic certainly fits the bill.
If any incoming player is likely to change Arsenal’s fortunes, it has to be him. Winning league titles is about as easy as running a bath for Ibrahimovic. As mentioned above, he has won 13 of them with six different clubs across Europe.
Let’s not forget his history with the London club though. Arsène Wenger unsuccessfully tried to persuade Ibrahimovic to join his club in 2001.
“Arsène Wenger asked me to have a trial with Arsenal when I was 17. I turned it down. Zlatan doesn’t do auditions,” Ibrahimovic explained years later.
Wenger’s game will need to be far better this time around if Arsenal are to stand any chance of being the club that catches Ibrahimovic’s fancy. Hard-to-get just isn’t going to crack it!
However, the attractive manner in which Arsenal try and play is tightly aligned to Ibrahimovic’s approach to the beautiful game. This has to count for something.
Another London club that Ibrahimovic has been linked with is Chelsea and it’s not hard to see why. Ibrahimovic is believed to be demanding wages in excess of 150’000 pounds a week (he sure is high-maintenance) and few owners have been as successful in winning over the hearts of talented footballers by throwing money at the situation as Roman Abramovich.
Ibrahimovic is getting on though and The Pensioners’ inability to offer Champions League football to him next year is unlikely to sit well.
Furthermore, Chelsea’s boss in waiting, Antonio Conte, sounded a serious warning to the group he will work with next year when he said: “I want players to have manners and respect. I never trust a player who has no manners.”
Ibrahimovic is a lot things to a lot of people but “well mannered” to anyone? Maybe not.
On one occasion, after being asked by a female reporter about a photo of him and Gerard Pique hugging, Ibrahimovic shockingly retorted with: “Come over to my house with your sister, baby, and I’ll show you who’s gay!”
Stamford Bridge is home to some of the loudest and proudest football fans in the world and they have a knack of making massive personalities feeling loved at their club. Their bond with Jose Mourinho is testament to this. If Conte can manage Ibrahimovic, the fans will most certainly bring the best out of him.
While it’s hard to imagine the extravagance and lavishness of Ibrahimovic’s lifestyle anywhere in England but London, the potential opportunity to work with Mourinho at the Red Devils could see him lured to Manchester.
“Jose Mourinho is a big star,” Ibrahimovic once said.
“The first time he met my partner Helena, he whispered to her: ‘Helena, you have only one mission: feed Zlatan, let him sleep, keep him happy.’
“That guy says whatever he wants. I like him. He’s the leader of his army. But he cares, too. He would text me all the time at Inter, wondering how I was doing.”
If Louis Van Gaal stays and his side don’t finish in the top four, it’s unlikely that this pairing will work.
However, if Mourinho takes charge at Old Trafford and United earn Champions League football then consider them front runners in the pursuit of Ibrahimovic.
This love-hate story would be a script even the most open-minded of Hollywood film-directors would struggle to take seriously.
While City look set to be playing in Europe next year and have no problems in spoiling their most precious possessions with plentiful amounts of pounds, Ibrahimovic’s loathing of incoming manager Pep Gourdiola makes this arrangement highly unlikely.
The two worked together (let’s use that phrase very loosely) at Barcelona.
Ibrahimovic was infuriated by the current FC Bayern München boss apparently giving him the cold shoulder, despite having been the club’s marquee signing the previous year, and confronted him on the training ground after playing only five minutes in a 4-1 win against Villarreal.
“He was staring at me and I lost it. I thought ‘there is my enemy, scratching his bald head’. I yelled to him: ‘You have no balls!’ And probably worse things than that,” Ibrahimovic revealed.
City fans, you can’t have it all. It’s Gourdiola or Ibrahimovic and you’ve got the former.
We are almost certain that Ibrahimovic will be playing football in England next season and you can bet that as soon as any news breaks on the matter, we will bring it to you.
In the meantime, have your say on how you think this twisted love-story starring one of football’s most charismatic stars will end.