Ibrahimovic's Chelsea Display Shows Why Premier League Clubs Should Be Trying To Sign Him This Summer


You’ll need to pay him a king’s ransom, but Zlatan Ibrahimovic has got to be the must-have accessory for aspirational Premier League clubs next season.

It doesn’t matter that he’s 34.

It doesn’t matter if he shoots his mouth off from time to time.

It doesn’t even matter that he spends the majority of matches strolling around looking marginally disinterested.

Inside the final third the Swedish striker is still a class apart from 99.9% of other players, so in my book that makes him, potentially, the free transfer of the century.

In a short term sense of course.

Last night, on an evening when Diego Costa was at his devilish best – channeling his aggression in a way that made David Luiz and Thiago Silva look like they were playing in slippy brogues – the Chelsea star was the game’s second best centre forward.

That explains all you need to know. In this his 17th year as a professional, Zlatan still has it.

What separates the good from the great, and the great from the special, is an impression of tranquility at critical moments.

In the biggest matches, at the most important junctures, elite footballers pull off subtle movements that buy them space; and then, when the ball arrives they almost always make it count.

I was privileged to play with Dennis Bergkamp. He possessed that un-coachable serenity when play was at its hottest. They didn’t call him the Ice Man for no reason.

While the Swedish legend has a tendency to frustrate much more than the former Gunner – and at Stamford Bridge he wasn’t pitch perfect – he too has similar gifts.

Chelsea’s defenders kept their concentration pretty well, but on the two occasions they did switch off, Ibrahimovic was alive and in a position to pounce both times.

For PSG’s opener, the timing and angle of his run across the back four was super-intelligent; the weight and direction of his cross for Rabiot, absolutely flawless.

For his own strike, the Scandinavian superstar was a half a yard, half a second, brighter than Ivanovic and Cahill. Anticipating what was going to happen, it meant that when Di Maria’s cross was arrowed his way, they weren’t close enough to lay a glove on Zlatan.

Smiling as the ball landed on his boot, the striker was never going to miss.

It was a goal that encapsulated why I think the veteran should be on everybody’s radar this summer.

He won’t rack up the same amount of KM per game as a younger man, he will appear lazy and disappear for long periods, but there are still very few players that think (and ‘think’ is the operative word) faster than Zlatan Ibrahimovic when he’s in and around the box.

Given quality service, he will continue to plunder goals.

I think Manchester United would be crazy not to chase him urgently, but I could see him enhancing every top club in the division. Arsenal, Liverpool, Tottenham Hotspur, even Manchester City and Chelsea, would all benefit hugely if they acquired his signature.

It’s an old cliché to say you can’t buy a talent like Zlatan’s, but in this case you don’t even have to in 2016.

For no fee and a huge outlay in wages, one lucky Premier League manager is likely to get his hands on a proven winner that’s world class at what he does.

So what if he’ll be 35 in October? Free transfers do not come any more brilliant than Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

He and his agent will make a tidy fortune, but for a year or two the club that’s brave enough to make the outlay, will fill their boots. 

 

Read Aaron Cox on why Man United are the only club for Zlatan this summer