Zlatanera – (verb) Swedish. Meaning: to dominate

New Delhi: He was flown into London and asked for a trial. Any other player would have jumped at the opportunity, but even at 17 when no one really knew his name, the boy had the audacity to refuse in the third person saying, “Zlatan doesn’t do auditions!”

Little did anyone know that this boy would later go on to be the most expensive player of all time, accumulating a total of €171 million in transfers after his €23 million transfer fee to Paris Saint-Germain. Ever since his transfer to Ajax in the summer of 2001, Zlatan Ibrahimovic has won 13 league titles in 4 countries (two of which were revoked after the infamous Calciopoli scandal when he was with Juventus). Few can boast of such an illustrious career. And don’t forget that amazing goal against England in 2012, for which he won the 2013 Puskas Award – only someone so egoistic can attempt something like that. The man has a word in the Swedish dictionary named after him.

Of course, his career was not without its setbacks. After a massive €46 million transfer to Barcelona and an impressive first few matches, he suffered a thigh injury in November 2009. Tensions began to rise between him and his manager at the time - Pep Guardiola. He still went on to finish the season with 16 goals after which he was loaned out in 2010 and subsequently sold to AC Milan in the next season. Ibrahimovic has been very vocal about his problems with Guardiola in his autobiography as well. He retired from international football after Sweden’s collapse in the UEFA Euro 2016.

Ibrahimovic made the bold decision to move to Manchester United earlier this month to play under his former boss José Mourinho (at Inter Milan). I say bold because it isn’t easy for players from other leagues to fit into the Barclays Premier League, especially at the age of 34 when most attacking players generally decide to hang their boots or take up more lucrative jobs in the MLS. English football is very demanding physically, not just because of the schedule but also because of the style of play; tackles are harsher and referees are relatively more lenient in giving fouls. This makes things tricky for Ibrahimovic and his new club.

Manchester United has been missing that winners’ mentality that was present under the management of Sir Alex Ferguson. Ibrahimovic is expected to reinstate that mentality. He adds tremendous value to the squad. He’s physically imposing and probably the best clean striker of the ball today. It sometimes feels awkward that United never signed him before this since the man has every ingredient of a typical Manchester United superstar. He is outspoken and egoistic coupled with brilliant skill. Probably the first player for the club since Eric Cantona to have these attributes. Watching his post-match interviews should be a treat as well.

That being said, it is an exciting time for English football. Watching Ibrahimovic play against a Guardiola team during the Manchester derby is something fans are anxiously looking forward to.

By Akhil Babel

(A sports enthusiast)

Photo credit: Google Images

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