Ibrahimovic: Finally Loyal?
This weekend, Parie Saint Germain’s star striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic marked his return from an early season injury with a stunning hat trick against St Etienne. The Swedish hit man captained and galvanised the French champions with a stunning performance as the Parisians raced to a 5-0 victory. Whilst Ibrahimovic was lethal in front of goal, he still found the humility to display his sportsmanship, consoling St Etienne’s goalkeeper Stephane Ruffier after his unfortunate own goal.
However, throughout his career, Zlatan Ibrahimovic has been far from loyal to his clubs and as a result is the most expensive footballer of all time with all his transfer fees adding up to a staggering €171 million. The 32 year old has been in the game for 15 years, playing for seven different clubs across five different countries. In fact, the longest ‘Ibra’ has ever played at a club for is only three seasons, when he played for Ajax and Inter Milan.
Beginning his career in 1999, Ibrahimovic burst onto the football scene playing for Swedish team Malmö FF who sat in the second division upon Ibra’s break through to the first team. The 2000 season saw the 6’ 5” front man begin to make a name for himself, scoring 12 goals in 26 games as Malmö were promoted back to the Allsvenskan. It was after this season that the dream became a reality, Dutch side Ajax agreed to sign him for €8.7 million, making Ibra the most expensive Scandinavian of all time.
However, Ibrahimovic wouldn’t join up with his new side until eight games into Malmö’s return to the Swedish first division.
Despite knowing these were his farewell games, Ibra was in no mood for cruising, scoring three goals and triggering ‘Zlatan Fever’ across Sweden.
Upon the Swede’s arrival to Amsterdam, there were concerns that his price tag would weigh him down and Ibrahimovic certainly suffered early on in the Netherlands. Struggling to settle at first, Ibra struggled for goals in his debut season and was often benched. Despite this, a last minute winner in the 2002 KNVB Cup seemed to kick start his Ajax career.
In the following seasons, Ibrahimovic won 2 Eredivisie titles and the Johan Cruyff Cup, scoring 48 goals during his time in Amsterdam. Before leaving on the 2004 summer deadline day for Juventus, Ibra marked his Ajax departure with one of his greatest goals. Against NAC Breda, the now settled striker took on seven opposition players on a mazy run before rounding the keeper to score.
After breaking through at Ajax, Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s career never looked back as the prolific Swede gradually asserted himself as one of the greatest players in the world. Although, a feud with Pep Guardiola limited Ibra’s Barcelona tenure to only a solitary season, he still managed to score 22 goals and win the 2009 FIFA Club World Cup. Furthermore, Ibrahimovic has been successful for his national team, with 48 goals he is the country’s record goal scorer.
Overall, at Malmö, Ajax, Juventus, Inter Milan, Barcelona, AC Milan and so far at Parie Saint Germain, Ibrahimovic has scored an astonishing 317 goals in only 584 career games.
Now subsiding in Paris, it appears the travel happy Swede is finally settling down at a club as the PSG project rolls on. Although having played for such a vast amount of illustrious European clubs, the Champions League still evades Ibra. At both Inter Milan and Barcelona, Ibrahimovic had the misfortune of leaving both clubs the year before they won the competition.
Parie Saint Germain has its sites firmly set on being crowned Europe’s top team, after already establishing themselves as by far the most dominant force in France. In a series of recent interviews, Ibrahimovic has expressed his desire to stay a PSG player despite the circus of top clubs that would swarm upon his availability.
At PSG, there is no doubt Ibrahimovic is idolised and adored by all their fans, his goals propelling them to incredible successes. With further money and talented players being injected into the club, it’s looking like Ibra may finally be settling down. However, will this loyal move finally see the mighty man pick up that illusive Champions League title at long last or will it continue to escape his mercurial grasp?
Priory Academy LSST