“I came, I saw, I conquered. To the Galaxy fans, you wanted Zlatan, I gave you Zlatan. You are welcome. The story continues…”
In typical fashion, Zlatan Ibrahimovic announced back at the start of November that, after two seasons with LA Galaxy, the two would part ways at the end of his contract in January.
The media storm loves a “where next” story and, as per usual, there are supposedly a flock of major European clubs after the Swedish maverick.
It seems he is after a move to Italy and the first club that he was linked with was back to Milan, where he spent two years, earning 61 caps and scoring 42 goals.
They won a Scudetto in that time and his wife seems very keen, after being quoted as saying she was ‘in love’ with the idea of returning to Milan. Major League Soccer commissioner Don Garber also stated Milan were interested at the start of November and at that point, it looked set.
Roma, Napoli and Fiorentina have also been linked with the Swedish goal-machine since, who has won four Serie A titles, discounting the two with Juventus that were revoked by Calciopoli. He was certainly a big success with both Milan clubs, scoring 99 goals across 149 appearances, but I don’t think those two are particularly viable options.
Milan, despite Ibrahimovic having the emotional connection, are in a pretty low place right now and given there is no European football this season, or it seems, on the horizon, there is limited appeal.
As for Napoli, they seem to be in a crisis of their own and signing players is not their main priority right now. Fiorentina are an attractive side, but lack of European football means they do not have much to offer the Swede. That would also be the case with Bologna, but there is something they do have the seems to be tempting the 38-year-old.
Bologna appear to have stolen a march on the rest of the Italian clubs for Ibrahimovic’s signature. Coach Sinisa Mihajlovic is a rather big pull for the Swede, who has both played and been (assistant) coached by him at Inter. It would be a shock move and, obviously, one that would no doubt help Bologna, who currently sit 15th in Serie A and struggling for wins, with only three all season so far.
Their President is Joey Saputo, who also owns MLS club Montreal Impact and is son of Lino Saputo, who is the owner of Saputo Inc. That company is estimated at just below $5B and the business generates around $11B a year in revenue, so money is certainly not a problem, it would seem. Zlatan was reported as wanting “outrageous” sums of money, so any side would need to be backed by substantial cash to stump up the funds required.
The Stadio Dall’Ara has a rejuvenating effect on players, having given a second wind to the likes of Roberto Baggio, Beppe Signori and currently Rodrigo Palacio. Bologna are sorely lacking a centre-forward who can bang in goals and Ibra would be treated like a King there.
However, if we are talking about where Zlatan SHOULD go, then I think the club best suited for him at this stage would be Roma.
They are a side that are competing for the top four this season, they are still in the Europa League and with Zlatan’s goals, he could take Roma that step further and potentially compete for higher honours next season. He would be surrounded by plenty of young, upcoming stars of the game in Italy, such as Lorenzo Pellegrini, Cengiz Under, Justin Kluivert and Nicolò Zaniolo. He would not be short of supply and energy around him, which would suit the 38-year-old nicely.
From Roma’s point of view, they would be able to give those youngsters an incredibly experienced and proven quality player, a figure to try and replicate, as well as someone that can motivate them. Edin Dzeko has scored just five goals this season and isn’t firing like he has done in recent campaigns, and with the injured Nikola Kalinic as the only back-up, Zlatan fits nicely.
The rumours will continue until we hit January and plenty of teams will continue to circle. Bologna have the money and the “emotional connection” but at this point, it really does depend on the ambitions Zlatan has for the remainder of his career. He has never won a Champions League and you would think that is still playing on his mind, so who knows where he might end up?