Zlatan Ibrahimovic

Is Zlatan returning to the Swedish national team?

Like a fine wine, the big Swede is only getting better with age – is he one of the best strikers in the world again?

4:40pm on Monday 2nd November 2020
Nicholas Hughes

When Zlatan Ibrahimovic injured his cruciate ligament and meniscus in 2017, many thought it would be the end of his career. Thankfully, Zlatan himself was one of the few that didn’t.

Then 36 years of age, Ibra returned to action in less than seven months for Manchester United before signing for LA Galaxy in March of 2018 – again, reason for doubts to surface of his future at the top level.

After averaging a goal contribution every game for two seasons in MLS, Zlatan returned to Milan with questions over his head, and he has well and truly silenced his doubters.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic
S (C) - Milan - 39 yrs
Nov 1, 2020
7Touches in box
4Aerials won
4Total shots
2Shots on target
24Final third passes

A haul of 10 goals and five assists in just half a season after his move in January was seemingly just a taste of what is to come as the 39-year-old now has seven goals in four Serie A matches this season.

Milan sit perched atop Serie A with Ibra’s seven goals the highest total in the competition so far, a testament to the influence he has had.

But we shouldn’t really be surprised. Aside from that injury-ravaged season at United, Zlatan has reached double figures for goals in all competitions every season since his breakout campaign at Ajax when he scored eight as a 20-year-old.

The former Sweden international will turn 40 in March, though his overhead kick against Udinese was certainly the feat of a much younger centre-forward.

And it isn’t just the goals that are so impressive. Last season he was playing 2.5 Key Passes P90, down to 1.41 in four games this season, and he creates more than one chance per game.

Physically he is competing as well as ever, winning 58% of his aerial duels, of which he is competing in nine P90 – and this is after testing positive for COVID-19 earlier this season.

All of a sudden, at nearly 40 years of age, Ibra has become one of the very best strikers in world football once again. Milan have eyes on the Scudetto this season and he will continue to be a key figure in any success they have.

So far this season he is outscoring Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo and is just three shy of Robert Lewandowski’s total of 10 in league football.

The question then becomes, when is Zlatan going to slow down? Francesco Totti played into his 40s and was nowhere near achieving these numbers, but Ibra continues to defy logic.

The title race in Italy is going to be an intriguing one this season with a host of teams in line to challenge Juventus for the crown, and a 40-year-old Ibrahimovic might just be the deciding factor.

And on Monday morning, he sent out this cryptic tweet:

We'd love to see Zlatan making his comeback on the international stage.

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