ZLATAN IBRAHIMOVIC has to give a little more next year.
Ibrahimovic came from Barcelona in the last summer and already in his first year with the Black & Red shirt, he made the difference, turning them from second/third place material to Scudetto winners.
However, his great performances lasted only half a season. A buckled-down Ibrahimovic will help Milan to win the title also next season, as they start the 2011/2012 season as favourites for the championship.
“I will not come back from Barcelona without Ibrahimovic,” said AC Milan Vice President Adriano Galliani last summer after denying on many occasions that he would be making a move for the Sweden – saying he’d be too expensive and negotiations will be very difficult. However, as you would expect from a transfer guru as Galliani, he pulled off a deal which sees Milan paying the European Champions €24 million in next installments. Ibrahimovic would come on a one-year loan with the Rossoneri reportedly obligated to buy him from Pep Guardiola’s side, that only a year before paid €46m + Samuel Eto’o for the player.
Ibra’s debut at Milan was not very successful as il Diavolo lost 2-0 to newly promoted side Cesena with “Ibracadabra” missing a penalty. But it was not too long before Ibrahimovic proved he was a good investment for Milan; he scored his debut goals against Auxerre in the Champions League and was without a doubt the No. 1 player on the pitch during the first half of the season – scoring and assisting – and there were talks that Milan will not be able to play without Ibrahimovic, as they became like Inter, not playing for each other but for Ibrahimovic; the press claimed Milan were too depended on him.
Comparisons to one of his history greatest, Mark Van Basten, started, but all Zlatan wanted is to sit back and relax a bit: “I feel very tired,” he said, “I’m burnt out”. Coach Massimiliano Allegri could not afford putting Ibrahimovic on the bench as every match was too important for Milan, who were running for the Scudetto.
Ibra started to lose his patience and was very tired and Milan felt it during the games as he was much less effective in the next months of the season; he scored only one goal during the month of February – a penalty kick against Napoli. Milan kept on winning, with random heroes like Gennaro Gattuso or Antonio Cassano scoring the winning goals and it was seen that the days of the Ibra-dependency were basically over. However, two tough games came afterwards and Milan nearly lost the first place of in Serie A.
Milan struggled against A.S. Bari, and nothing was going for the burnt out Ibra; he was mad, and got sent off for punching his opponent in the stomach. The disciplinary commission gave the player a three-match ban (which was later reduced to two games following a successful appeal). Galliani called the games against Bari and Palermo the worst moments of the season as Milan came to the derby with one point collected in two games, plus they were without Ibrahimovic. But, you all know what happened in that derby.
Ibra returned from his two-match ban on April 10, for the game against Fiorentina and he was the star of the match, but for the wrong reasons. Ibrahimovic was sent off again, for the second time in 2 matches.
The Milan fans started to dislike him and said he was not worth what Milan paid for him, but legendary Paolo Maldini thought that “Ibrahimovic is the current symbol of Milan.” Zlatan said before he moves away every few years because he does not want to be regarded a symbol or a legend at any particular club. Maldini sees a symbol in a guy that karate-kicks players as a sign of affection, but Ibra has yet to prove it to many fans who just wish him to stop yelling at others and play good football like he knows and loves to do.
We don’t even talk about his ineffectiveness in Champions League football, but Ibrahimovic has to prove to himself and Milan that he’s matured enough to play a whole season without getting suspended for silly things and even the excuse of tiredness is no longer available with Milan having 7 forwards.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic returns to training in two days, and he must do a little better… in everything.