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Saturday December 28 2019
Zlatan the ultimate Milan gift

The return of Zlatan Ibrahimovic to Milan represents the greatest Christmas gift Rossoneri fans could’ve asked for right now, writes Vijay Rahaman.

Some people receive their Christmas gifts after December 25 and such was the case for the Milan fans worldwide, as it was confirmed that Zlatan Ibrahimovic would be reuniting with the Rossoneri two days later after the festive holiday. 

Following his departure from MLS side the LA Galaxy several weeks ago, rumours had been rife as to exactly where the former Sweden international would be plying his trade come 2020. Links with teams in La Liga and the Premier League were quickly dismissed, as the man himself hinted he’d be returning to Italy, which narrowed it down to Napoli, Bologna and Milan.

When the announcement was made official on December 27, the Milan social media went into overdrive with the hashtag #IZComing. The club's Twitter account alone posted six times about this return after seven and a half years. The man himself made a splash on Instagram as well with an image of him in quasi-religious garb arm-wrestling Satan. "Same Zlatan. Different Devil. @acmilan Arrivo."

However, make no mistake about it, just signing Ibra will not magically make the seven times European champions jump back to the upper echelons of club football alone. However, his presence, his personality, his aura if you will, should give the entire club a lift and they are badly in need of one.

Milan suffered a humiliating 5-0 defeat at the hands of Atalanta just this past Sunday in the club's worst loss for 21 years, so there is much work to do.

The Diavolo’s downward spiral can be traced back precisely to the summer of 2012, which might not have been the end of the world that the Mayans predicted, but it was the beginning of the end for Milan. That year, Ibrahimovic and Thiago Silva were both sold to Paris Saint-Germain to balance the books, despite both players making it clear they happily would’ve remained at San Siro. The only title won since then was the Supercoppa Italiana in 2016 and they’ve qualified for the Champions League only twice in that time.

From three changes in ownership, to seven coaching appointments to hundreds of millions of Euros spent on players that have not stepped up, Milan are in serious need of a boost. We could say that is exactly what Ibra coming back represents.

The club had made it well known that they would be ‘investing in youth’ and build from there, something which previous boss Gennaro Gattuso had clashed with the owners on, as he requested more experienced players for the squad. A request that was subsequently rejected. It seems though that the power brokers may have relented months after, as both Paolo Maldini and Zvonimir Boban have mentioned the need for more established figures as much for the dressing room as on the pitch.

Have they decided to "rip up the script" and start their transfer strategy over or is this a "one-off" acquisition to keep the fans happy? Time will tell.

Besides raising the excitement levels of the supporters, Ibra should give a much-needed boost to a squad that has been incapable of stepping up a level. Despite the criticism he has faced wherever he has been, Ibra is a winner and has won everywhere he has gone and even at 38 years of age, one must believe that he is not going back just for one last pay cheque. 

The biggest issue the Rossoneri have had this campaign is putting the ball in the back of the net on a consistent basis. Through 17 matches in the league, they have just 16 goals, with even last-placed Genoa having managed to score 17 times. 

Main striker Krzysztof Piatek has just four strikes in those 17 games, two of which were penalties. That is in stark contrast to last season when he took Calcio by storm, as he racked up 30 goals in 42 matches, between his spells at Genoa and Milan. He was so prolific that despite spending only six months at each club, he was still top scorer for the season at both.

Besides him, Rafael Leao has not always had the faith of the two coaches this season, as neither Marco Giampaolo nor Stefano Pioli have given the Portuguese 21-year-old an extended run in the starting XI. Attacking midfielders Hakan Calhanoglu and Suso have been their usual frustratingly inconsistent selves.

Ibra should not only give the club a boost in terms of goals, but he has proven to be a creative set-up man as well, having accumulated over 140 assists in his career. His experience, particularly his successful time in Italy at Juventus, Inter and Milan, should be an invaluable asset which can be passed on to Milan's young strikers. 

Pioli will need to accommodate the arrival of the Super Swede into his team. The former Lazio and Fiorentina boss has so far employed a 4-3-3 formation, using just one central striker, but may he be tempted to change? Obviously Ibra can play as the man up top, but Pioli could drop one of Calhanoglu or Suso and possibly play Leao or Piatek in one of the positions, or alternatively decide to go with the 4-2-3-1 tactic playing that double pivot to protect the back four and unleash four attackers up front. It’s better for a tactician to have these problems than a lack of options.

Ibra said he is returning to a club he "respects enormously" and will "fight with my teammates to change the course of the season." This will be one Christmas present that fans will remember forever.

Have your say...
if anyone has watched an actual milan game, the problems will are obvious.

Last year the same defence was one of the best in serie A but delivery to our strikers was non existent, our midfield cannot control the ball or retrieve it. kessie, calhanoglou and suso are to blame for this, we loose the ball too frequently. the three are not bad players but in my opinion too frustrated and nervous. Ibra will theoretically bring some confidence he holds the ball well and can ease the pressure.
on the 2nd January, 2020 at 5:56am
@jimmy

crying for leader and get Ibra? lol

ibra is a world class player but i have seen him playing since ajax time,
he definitely not a leader
on the 2nd January, 2020 at 3:37am
Low risk, high reward move for Milan. Team is crying for a leader since Bonucci left (couldn't help myself).
on the 30th December, 2019 at 9:19pm
He is worth it if he kick these guys up the butt, for too long certain players put in poor performances consumed by their egos living in denial.
on the 30th December, 2019 at 8:23pm
Milan have not playing a 25mil rebic; then what is the point in making prime signings? Definitely not the ibra one! chala was supposed to go one year ago? Let him go!. Use bigilia or bring someone else? That most vital role is empty! And finally bring someone milan fan can count on? Definitely not suso!
on the 30th December, 2019 at 2:58pm
This is a pathetic attempt by Maldini and Boban to save their jobs by hoping that they will not be remembered as the 2 that purchased Theo Hernandez, Krunic, Leao, Duarte and Rebic for a combined total of 88 mill AND take the team from 5th AND European commitments to 12th place with no European commitments !! When will Milan fans stop living in la-la land and Protest for the firing of Maldini and Boban and hire someone that knows how to run a club. Milan needs alot more that Ibra to win !!!!!!!!
on the 30th December, 2019 at 2:39pm
I really dont understand any negativity around this transfer. You people dont really follow Milan. If he cant make it, nothing is changed, if he can (which I believe he will), that would be enormous. This is a nothing to lose gamble. And Milan badly need experiences players to lift up the team and also a profilic hitman. While we need to see the later, the 1st issue is solved, at least partially. So this is all good.
on the 30th December, 2019 at 2:31pm
United States of Totti
The last 6 years have been 'starting over'.. 'new start'... 'hitting the reset button' to be in exactly the same situation or in this seasons case worse than the last.
Ibra is a fantastic player and I agree with all that he will bring something we are missing the problem is we are missing much more!

@sheva milan
Piatek hasn't been made anything, he is ther to score and he doesn't score there is no scapegoating with facts. Suso and the sunshine band can also leave!
on the 30th December, 2019 at 2:16pm
Like US of Totti said i do not get the negativity. Is it a PR stunt? yes; is it a gimmick? perhaps but how does it hurt this Milan side. He will not be stunting the growth of anyone with potential. The under performing players might see this as pressure off their shoulders as all eyes will now be on Zlatan not them so they could start playing better. My only issue is the manager as i still cannot believe he was hired. He needs to be surrounded with a lot of pace though.
on the 30th December, 2019 at 11:41am
Ibra will help but I have two main concerns with this transfer. 1.It could hurt Piatek,a very good long term striker,who imo has been unfairly made the scapegoat for this season. 2. A slight improvement in performance may give Hakan,Suso,Kessie,Paqueta a lifeline. These players are not good enough to have our system of play built around them.So without a change in playing system not much will change.However,with solid signings like Theo,Krunic,Bennacer in the summer I still trust Maldini Boban.
on the 30th December, 2019 at 10:02am
@viktor... Interista23 is talking about mismanagement not who won what and when... you idiot!
on the 30th December, 2019 at 7:01am
You are correct about the coach though:
Milan squad isn't that bad.
You don't have European commitments so don't even need to rotate.
Cristante, Valero, Gagliardini, etc... aren't better than your players...
There are no excuses why Milan can't compete for fourth.


It's all MENTAL.

And of course LACK OF MOTIVATION.

Ibra can bring a bit of that spark.
He'll bring spotlight on Milan, so his teammates will have to train/ perform better.
Ibra is a "restart" button for them.
on the 30th December, 2019 at 4:05am
I think it is a low-risk choice for Milan. Fees are low and Zlatan has qualities that can add value to the club:

He's confident - which Milan need. They've look like scared rabbits so far. Zlatan won't put up with that.

He's smart tactically - so hopefully passes on knowledge to Milan's talented players that haven't performed.

He's old - so won't hinder youth playing time.

Won't solve all problems but seems like a sensible short-term move for the mid-season transfer window.
on the 30th December, 2019 at 3:45am
@ITA,
Of course Milan would be better off with Pep & five 50mil players...
But this is reality; Milan is without CL & with FFP problems.
My point is
Getting Ibra FOR FREE is better than buying Kalinic-type of player.
Milan fans should rejoice
--Ibra will do EVERYTHING to help the club he always spoke highly of.
And us, fans from other Serie A clubs, should also be happy as we get to see self-proclaimed "lion" in Serie A "ZOO exhibition".

Now,
All we need is Neymar & Messi to complete the set :)
on the 30th December, 2019 at 3:30am
@Viktor As far as I know we won the treble before you, bounced back from mismanagement and ownership turnover before you, beat FFP before you, and we're going to dethrone RuBe before you too in all likelihood. At least you got relegated before us though right...?
on the 29th December, 2019 at 10:27pm
@Interista23 As far as I know we won the league before you so pipe down. 
on the 29th December, 2019 at 7:26pm
This is like a desperate, post-wall single mother crawling back to her abusive, womaniser ex-boyfriend and expecting a fairy tale to unfold. Maybe Serie B will be the equivalent of the GBH ward at the local hospital when all is said and done...
on the 29th December, 2019 at 5:46pm
United States of Totti
It's not about negativity it's that this doesn't resolve anything. The point that people are trying to make is next season we will be in the same mess when he leaves and that is the point we are making. Ibra is a great addition to a team in transition who need all the qualities a star can bring but this isn't a team in transition nor is this a manager building a legendary team. This team and manager needs to go and take the board with them. Start with a world class manager
on the 29th December, 2019 at 4:57pm
What's with negativity, guys?
I dislike Ibra with passion, but...

1. Milan didn't buy Zlatan, they got him for FREE.
2. It's only for 6 MONTHS.
3. He'll earn 3 mil --see how much their other players earn.

4. It's IBRA!
A TRADEMARK!
He'll inject HYPE into fans, players & even whole league!

So, THANK YOU MILAN FOR BRINGING IBRA (BACK) TO SERIE A***

Let's see how many of you haters will tune in to see his first performance ;) !!!
on the 29th December, 2019 at 2:17pm
Another oldie. WOW. Why not buy Ronaldo when he's 38 Milan?
Milan should buy faster players like Adama Traore. And the build a new 61.000 seater stadium just outside Milano if they corrupt mayou keep playing hardball. 6-7 miles from Milan just near a train station.
on the 29th December, 2019 at 9:21am
@ITA @spirit_willy couldn't agree more. Sad how most Bbilan fans here couldn't see pass this temporary Ibracadabra circus. He is not the answer to the problem but like an aspirin to the whole spiral spin to Serie B. Trust me Ibra would just leave if results is not there. He's 38 by the way. He is not a saviour nor is he a talismanic like any club captain Bbilan should have!
on the 29th December, 2019 at 6:00am
The ultimate gift would be a world class manager with a serious plan of action and then time.
This current group have no plan, no vision and this manager has simply picked up where the last left!
on the 28th December, 2019 at 9:39pm
The length of the 'contract' tell you all that pick me up i cannot stand by myself; i will give you money for six months. It's a CONTRACT. Any player needs to settle in any proper team than can play on for one year but that man turned into a unprofessional jerk. Sorry to say as he was my reason to love football when he was at Inter. Humble and slicky and class.
on the 28th December, 2019 at 4:29pm
Riki Massara really suit well with this Milan lol, delusional.
on the 28th December, 2019 at 3:52pm
I feel nothing but sorry for Milan..
they are so derperate and even take Ibra back without clear plans of what they will do in the future.
Maybe they thought Ibra is a saint that will help their problems lol.
on the 28th December, 2019 at 3:49pm
He might give them a short-term pick-me-up and inspire a few of the under-performing players that are there now, but the signing stinks of a gimmick.

It really does show how far Milan have fallen when they have to parade this OAP out as some sort of saviour.

What a mess they are in.
on the 28th December, 2019 at 2:08pm
I think Milan fans are being played again after a series of bad results which was mainly due to management's poor decision over some time now. Since they appointed Pioli(An average coach) they should focus on giving him what he wants so at the very least he can implement his ideas properly and results will come. But giving him an egotistical player like Zlatan which to be fair will make watching them more entertaining is not the answer especially in a time where teamwork is more important.
on the 28th December, 2019 at 2:04pm
@viktor hey deep inside you know this is true. Your beloved club hasn't even manage to get a real owner yet now you think about resurrection? You're still in debt! If Bbilan is serious they would have act now and run the club like how Inter managed to turn their fate around. Inter is currently at the top! Many points above lowly and embarrassing Bbilan.... This is a suicide rather than a kick to the shin. Bbilan is going nowhere but down.
on the 28th December, 2019 at 1:54pm
My take on this is that what has Milan got to lose? Let's face it they are becoming a mockery now so signing a marquee player can only be good for them. So what if he is 38 if this was in the 80s 90s or early 2000s, Ibra would have fallen flat but nowadays there are so many athletes and mediocre footballers that he would cope no problem. he is not facing baresi or players of that ilk so he would score goals. Milan need anything right now to boost their fans and me just might be the tonic.
on the 28th December, 2019 at 1:35pm
@HereMilanGoBanana

"ts very much likes surviving from Serie B to be exact! "

You have very little rationale point in your arguments.

Stop trolling kiddo. So much hatred is not good for you.
on the 28th December, 2019 at 1:13pm

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