Ibrahimovic could be key to Milan from January after the long World Cup hiatus

AC Milan is looking forward to the return of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who could be another crucial player in his quest to defend the Scudetto and advance in the Champions League.

Ibrahimovic has been missing since the end of the 2021-22 season when he opted to undergo surgery on his knee, thus ruling him out until the start of next year. Many thought this could mean the end of his playing days, but instead he signed a new deal and repeatedly stressed his determination to get back on the field.

The Swede at Milan may not be on the field at the moment, but he continues to make his presence felt in another way. Zlatan has imparted a brave mindset to a young team that has long learned to walk since returning to the club.

Ibra pushed his teammates to channel a belief and mindset that he helped convey in situations where he wouldn’t be able to get out on his own. Other experienced players like Kjaer, Florenzi and Giroud certainly helped too, but Zlatan’s appeal is unique.

Pioli also helped run the team, of course with full respect for his authority as head coach. Ibrahimovic has also used the opportunity to “welcome” new deals by helping them integrate and still participates in the same group activities such as team dining and meetings with coaches.

When Ibra returns, he wants to mark some records. First, only two players scored in Serie A at an age older than Zlatan, whose last goal was 40 years and 98 days on January 9. Alessandro Costacurta scored the net against Udinese in 41 years and 25 days, and Silvio Piola scored 40 years and 131 days. Ibrahimovic will turn 41 on October 3, so if the Swede scores on his return, he will set the record.

Costacurta also holds the title of being the oldest player to have ever appeared in the Champions League at 40 years and 211 days, so if Milan make it past the group stages, Ibra will almost certainly get that title too.

If he were to score, Ibra would take the record for oldest Champions League goalscorer from Francesco Totti, who scored 38 years and 59 days against CSKA Moscow. No one older than Filippo Inzaghi (37 years, 86 days) scored twice when he scored twice against Real Madrid in 2010.

You shouldn’t just take our word for it despite Ibrahimovic’s importance, like Rafael Liao – who has long described the Swede as his “big brother” – He said it himself a few days ago.

“The first two years in Milan were difficult, I came from France, where everything was smaller and life was completely different. When you arrive in Milan, you know that you have to be a winner, many legends wore the same shirt as you, and they won many trophies.”

“You feel and experience it right away. After a transition, I became another person and another player. During this time, my family, Mr. Pioli and Ibra, with whom I stay close every day, have been key.

“Zlatan is an example, he taught me the importance of asking, always focusing, even off the field. We talk whenever we can, not as professionals or teammates, but as men.”

Pierre Kalolo Also speaking last week On what it’s like to be in the dressing room Zlatan Ibrahimovic: “At first it was impressive because I was playing with him, but on PlayStation. But then you realize that if he’s still at these levels, it’s because he works hard every day. He conveyed that need. That helps us even when he’s not on the field.”

Simply put, Ibrahimovic raises the bar for those around him because of the example he set through his determination. Getting it back would be a big boost.

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