As you may already be well aware, iconic striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic will leave PSG upon the expiration of his contract during the summer transfer window. That has seen him linked with a free transfer to the Premier League in recent weeks, but not everybody seems quite so convinced of his quality.
Indeed, Manchester City are already out of the race for his services; Pep Guardiola and the veteran front-man notoriously clashed at Barcelona, leading to the latter’s departure in summer 2011 just twelve months after moving to the Nou Camp.
Likewise, certain pundits have expressed their concerns about the ageing 34-year-old striker, famed for his arrogant and often overbearing demeanour, and the motivation he actually has for moving to the Premier League. Is Zlatan interested in anything more than a final pay-day and a few Premier League goals to massage his already monolithic ego?
But we at FootballFanCast are massive fans of the towering striker and in our opinion, pretty much every club in world football – let alone Premier League giants Arsenal, Chelsea & Manchester United – should be scrapping it out for him in the coming transfer window. Here are FIVE reasons why…
Zlatan often portrays himself as an egomaniac, lacking team spirit and prioritising his own success over that of his clubs. The media and pundits rarely bother to disagree, but the iconic Swede’s sensational trophy haul would suggest otherwise.
Indeed, Ibrahimovic hasn’t lost a title race for over a decade, harking all the way back to the 2002/03 campaign at Ajax and spanning spells in the Eredivisie, Serie A, La Liga and Ligue 1 – although two Italian titles were later retracted due to the Calciopoli scandal at Juventus.
To achieve such consistent success at six different clubs, Ibra can’t be the selfish sociopath often suggested by the tabloids. And even if he is, it clearly doesn’t affect his teams in the same way as fellow enigma Mario Balotelli, for example.
In short, Ibrahimovic is a winner. Amid arguably the chaotic, competitive and unpredictable era in Premier League history, every club fighting for the title needs one of those leading the line.
Most strikers are usually well past their peak by the time they turn 34, but Zlatan seems to be maturing like a fine wine and only getting better with age.
The Sweden international has netted 35 times across all competitions this season and is resultantly on course to complete his strongest ever campaign in scoring terms – just six goals shy of his career-best 41-goal return from 2013/14 with plenty of football left to play.
Admittedly, the French top flight is one of the least competitive divisions in Europe, so scepticism regarding Zlatan’s ability to transition that potency to the Premier League is certainly understandable – especially considering he’s famed for a rather underwhelming scoring record against English clubs.
But Ibrahimovic has never relied on speed and his 6 foot 5 frame remains as imposing as ever, so there’s no reason the goals should dry up – at least, to dramatic Radamel Falcao-esque proportions – upon moving to the Premier League.
Likewise, when it comes to creativity, technique and movement, Ibra’s vast experience, boasting 775 senior appearances throughout his career, is only further improving his game.
Perhaps it’s a rather cynical perspective to take, considering how cash-thirsty the corporate aspects of the Premier League have become in recent years, but there are obvious commercial benefits to snapping up Ibrahimovic, indisputably one of the most recognised names and characters in world football.
Indeed, James Rodriguez sold 345,000 shirts in just 48 hours after signing for Real Madrid in summer 2014, so you can imagine the kind of revenues Ibrahimovic would amass pretty much instantaneously upon joining Manchester United (the second-highest shirt sellers in world football). It might even cover the vast majority of his wages.
But the cash cow doesn’t stop milking there. The 34-year-old is a highly-marketable, well-established footballer who fans simply love to watch and will resultantly attract new sponsorship deals, new investors, new shareholders and generally create a buzz of commercial interest around his next club.
Likewise, Ibrahimovic may not be the most natural of teachers but the young players at Arsenal, Chelsea and United would have so much to learn from the enigmatic Swede. Even training in his company for just twelve months could drastically aid their development – especially young strikers. Some might disagree but nobody ever became a worse footballer by playing with the best.
As you may have noticed over the last few years, the Premier League is seriously struggling to sign top-draw and even second-draw strikers. There quite simply aren’t that many around at the moment, compared to five or ten years ago, and consequentially, all the clubs lucky enough to have one aren’t interested in selling without an astronomical fee involved.
It looks set to be a similar case in the coming transfer window. The likes of Chelsea, Man United, Arsenal, Man City, Real Madrid, Barcelona, Atletico Madrid and Bayern Munich will be scrapping it out over a relatively small rabble, such as Gonzalo Higuain, Romelu Lukaku, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette, and a few clubs will inevitably miss out to others who are prepared to pay very silly money.
So no club – regardless of their financial backing – is in a position to turn down arguably the greatest striker of his generation, readily available on a free transfer. Indeed, much has been made of Ibrahimovic’s wages but he’ll certainly save his next club a significant amount in transfer fees, which brings us nicely onto…
No doubt, despite suggesting otherwise throughout this article, signing Ibrahimovic could still backfire spectacularly. He’s an incredibly self-confident character who doesn’t see eye-to-eye with everybody, particularly managers, and could resultantly cause a few rifts in the dressing room.
But overall, acquiring the strike veteran on a free transfer isn’t that much of a risk. Firstly, there’s no transfer fee involved, so it’s not as if Ibra next clubs could end up throwing £20million-odd down the drain.
Secondly, although the 34-year-old will demand a considerable salary, any deal in the Premier League would surely have only a two-year duration at the very most – with a one-term contract far more likely. So even if things go awry, he won’t be hanging around too long anyway.
Likewise, contracts are more complex, sophisticated and varied than ever before, so Arsenal, Chelsea or United could include instant release clauses, twelve-month extension clauses and performance-related pay structures if they’re concerned about how Zlatan might settle in England.
With that in mind, a short-term deal seems like a no-brainer.