Zlatan Ibrahimovic to West Ham? Well, actually, joking aside, it’s not impossible.
West Ham are now an extremely ambitious club and on the way up. Their impressive new stadium will attract players, as will their Premier League status and the fact that they are a London club.
Attracting players will largely depend on who else they can lure in, but one look at a team comprising the talents of Dimitri Payet and co and where the club is heading and Zlatan may well need to consider West Ham after all.
It seems very likely that he will leave PSG in the summer and look for a new challenge. It was suggested that Inter Milan are interested, but he’s been there and done that, so why return for more of the same? He doesn’t appear to be a player that worries about comfort zones and a new challenge is what he’s probably looking for.
His goalscoring record speaks for itself after stints at Malmo, Ajax, Juventus, Inter, Barcelona, AC Milan and now PSG. His strike rate is phenomenal and that’s why there will be a queue for his signature come June/July. If PSG don’t offer him something he can’t say no to, that is.
Against Zlatan is his age, but he’s probably only good for one or two more season’s and the fact the 34 year old Swedish international is arrogant, full of self praise, selfish and deemed not be a team player, the Hammers may be put off after building a dynamic within the dressing room that is stable. His wages might also be a stumbling block for anyone other than the bigger guns, but if West Ham qualify for Europe – who knows.
However, weigh that against his attributes and you have something of superstar that scores goals for fun. He once famously said that he didn’t do auditions and on his statistics – he doesn’t need to.
So, if not West Ham, and let’s face it – why not, then who else? There’s China, but their window closes in a few days’ time, so he isn’t going there. You could suggest Major League Soccer, but that’s just a retirement home for the those without any ambition left in them, and that’s not Zlatan. He will still want to pit his wits against the best and win things that matter. So that means no MLS move then.
He could go to Italy and he could go to Spain, but he’s done that. He’s never played in Germany, but top club Bayern Munich wouldn’t buy him as he doesn’t fit their player profile. So, that leaves the Premier League, unless he opts for something ludicrous like the Turkish League or one of the Middle Eastern set-ups. Money talks after all.
He won’t want to go to Manchester City because he fell out with Pep Guardiola at Barca, he won’t want to go to Arsenal because Arsene Wenger decided against signing him all those years ago. Chelsea? He’s not keen on them, which leaves Manchester United. Jose Mourinho coached Zlatan at Inter, so that’s entirely possible and United could possibly stretch to the Swede’s weekly wages of £200,000 after tax, should the ‘Special One’ head to Old Trafford..
David Beckham is waiting to eventually to take Zlatan to the MLS with his franchise, but that’s another year or more away, so where next?
After the Champions League game against Chelsea, Zlatan approached the English press and was asked about his future, “I have another three months here and, then, what will happen?” he said. “Big things will happen. So let’s see.” Asked whether he would favour a first taste of life in the Premier League, he added: “Let’s just say I am in good shape.”
Zlatan unfortunately has a bad boy side to him as well and has kicked team-mates in the face, punched opponents, head-butted players, abused officials, team-mates and well… anyone really, and has had a few bans in his time. The last time really upset the French authorities. In March 2015, after a loss by PSG in a Ligue 1 match, Zlatan angrily ranted “In 15 years I’ve never seen a [good] referee in this shit country … [they] don’t even deserve PSG”. He later apologised, but was criticised by French politicians, and Ligue 1 imposed a four-match ban.
Allow the Hammers fans to dream of landing a star name. He is a figure you love or you hate, but you can’t deny his talent and, like many other footballers, he does help good causes. On 11 August 2014, Ibrahimovic paid US$51,000 to send the Swedish national football team for the intellectually disabled to the INAS World Football Championships in Brazil. After team-mates Johan Elmander, Kim Källström, Andreas Isaksson and Per Nilsson donated signed jerseys to be auctioned off for the cause, Zlatan responded, “What the hell are you going to do with a shirt? How much is it to go?”. Love it.
The name ‘Zlatan’ was trademarked in May 2003 at the Swedish Patent and Registration Office, he is under contract with Nike and in September 2012, Ibrahimovic was honoured with the inscription of his name on the city’s “Walk of Fame of Sports.”
He isn’t all bad and I bet you would have him at your club – wouldn’t you?