Who: Zlatan Ibrahimovic
From Where: LA Galaxy
To Where: AC Milan
For How Much: Free Transfer
Grade For AC Milan: A
The king is back in Europe! Zlatan Ibrahimovic has made a grand return to AC Milan, where he ruled over an iron fist less than a decade ago. Spoiler Alert: It’s huge for Milan. They badly need a no-nonsensical kinda leader to smack some sense into the under-performing squad.
Yeah, so he is 38-years-old. But age is clearly not a factor for the Swedish genius. Of course, he’ll probably not have it easy as he did at LA Galaxy, but should still tread Milan on the upwards path in again becoming among the more relevant clubs in Italy.
Who Is He?
Wait, what? This needs to be explained? Well, how about the single most divisive figure of his era? One of the best (if not THE best) Swedish soccer players of all time. Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s confidence is often mistaken for arrogance, but he’s been that damn good almost wherever he’s gone.
He’s won league titles in Netherlands, Italy, France, and Spain. He even won trophies for an under-par Manchester United side. Most recently, he helped put LA Galaxy in the world map with his immaculate work, having scored 52 (!!) goals in 56 appearances.
Is The Price Fair?
He’s joined the Rossoneri on a free! They are paying him €3.5 million ($3.9m) for the next six months. After that, he has the option to extend his stay for one more season.
His age might be an issue, especially if an injury sets in, but you have to pay for a top-class player. Zlatan brings much-needed experience & goal-scoring options, which should help inspire Milan into having a better 2nd half of the season and ultimately make the signing worth it.
What Impact Should We Expect?
Zlatan returns to Serie A after 8+ years. A lot has changed since then. A Cristiano Ronaldo-inspired Juventus have set up a monopoly, having won the league title for the last seven years.
Milan’s rivals Inter are prepared to overthrow the Italian giants, but Zlatan’s new side are struggling to even maintain foot in the top half. Indeed, at this moment, the Rossoneri are sitting down in 11TH place.
They’ve already changed managers thrice (!!) this season and the current one– Stefano Pioli –isn’t exactly a fan-favourite. Ibra’s return to the city is almost being treated as if a godlike figure’s descended upon from heaven to save them from doom.
Now it won’t be easy to overturn their fortunes overnight. He’s coming back to the European stage after some time. Serie A is more competitive than before, with relatively “smaller” oppositions possessing plenty of firepower.
But the Rossoneri’s style should complement the Swede. While they’re strictly a mid-table side, they have a few talented/creative figures to excel alongside Ibra. Suso is a majestic playmaker booming with creativity. Hakan Calhanoglu is the industrious engine to force his way into etching together chances.
There’s Franck Kessie & Giacomo Bonaventura to work as their workhorses & feed Zlatan with opportunities. He’ll probably take time gelling with his teammates, but Ibra rarely misses when handed definitive chances. Averaging nearly a goal per game at the MLS proved that.
I’d say he’ll probably end up scoring 8-10 goals. Ibra’s not only been brought in for goals, but to make a much larger impact at Milan. He’ll play a huge part in acting as a mentor for their inexperienced, young strikers.
Strikers Krzysztof Piatek & Rafael Leao possess enough talent to become prominent goal-scorers. But they need some guidance when it comes to finishing off chances, positioning themselves better and flexing their authority. Zlatan should help integrate those skills into their arsenal.
He’ll also be responsible for uplifting the mood in & around the club by putting experience to good use. Ibra will look to inspire Milan by integrating confidence & a winning mentality into the squad. If things go swell, don’t be surprised if he transitions into a management role with the club soon.
But for now, his priority is to get Milan back competing with the big guns. Knowing how far off they’re from the top dogs, it’s kinda impossible to gain a UEFA Champions League place. But Zlatan should flex his authority into marshalling them onwards to a possible UEFA Europa League finish, saving their season from complete humiliation.
AC Milan (A) — It’s not like Milan will become title-contenders by roping in Zlatan, but this is still very big in fixing their core problems. He should use his expertise to inspire the side to bigger & better things in 2020, bringing smiles back into the fans faces & producing plenty of memorable moments himself.