AC Milan are prepared to let Zlatan Ibrahimovic decide exactly when he will walk away from the club. The 38-year-old joined the Rossoneri for a second spell back in December on a short-term contract after his tenure with Major League Soccer side L.A. Galaxy had ended.
Milan director of sport Ricky Massara talked up the impact Ibrahimovic has made in the short time he’s been back at the San Siro during an interview with Rai Sport (h/t Goal’s Peter Hanson): “It’ll ultimately be up to him, how he feels and how long he wants to continue. He truly is a phenomenon, and we are very happy with his performance.”
Massara was referring to what comes next for Ibrahimovic, with Hanson detailing how the Swede is initially contracted until June. However, there is an option to extend the deal by 12 months.
It’s something Milan sound open to judging by Massara’s praise for Ibrahimovic’s performances. Keeping a proven goalscorer who still feels he has a lot to offer at the highest level makes sense for a goal-shy Milan team.
The Rossoneri’s profligacy in front of goal is best summed up by left-back Theo Hernandez being the club’s leading scorer so far this season. Hernandez has a mere six goals to his credit, and he was unable to add to his tally after being booked twice and sent off during Thursday’s 1-1 draw at home to Juventus in the Coppa Italia semi-final first leg.
Milan’s goal against the Bianconeri came from Croatia international forward Ante Rebic, but Ibrahimovic proved he can still pose a threat against the dominant team in Italy:
Ibrahimovic couldn’t find the net on Thursday, but he has scored three goals since making his Milan comeback. There is still a fear factor about a striker who can bully defenders in the air and possesses the technique and improv skills to produce the truly spectacular.
Any doubts about Ibrahimovic’s ability to still cut it against top teams were dispelled by his first-half performance during Sunday’s 4-2 defeat to Inter in the Milan derby:
There is still value in a player who gives Stefano Pioli a battle-tested and natural striker. There are few of those in the Milan squad, with 20-year-old Rafael Leao and Daniel Maldini, 18, inexperienced.
Ibrahimovic relishes proving he can still revive the fortunes of a club struggling for direction.
Milan represent a fallen giant starved of success, not having won Serie A since 2011, Ibrahimovic’s first spell at the club. Getting the Rossoneri back to winning ways would be a fitting legacy for one of the most decorated players of the modern era.