On Wednesday July 18, 2012, Paris-Saint German completed the second and final part of their shock €60 million double swoop for Thiago Silva and Ibrahimovic from AC Milan. Without a doubt the Thiago Silva deal is one of the biggest in history as PSG may have bought the world’s best defender, a huge coup in itself, especially with a reported heavy interest from Barcelona. But what about the impact of Ibrahimovic? The big Swede has scored 35 goals and notched 10 assists for AC Milan in what was ultimately an unsuccessful second season in his stint with the Lombardy team, although his 28 goals were enough to see him win the Capocannoniere award for a second time with a different team. He followed that up with a highly successful three games for Sweden at Euro 2012 with an incredible volley against France, although the Scandinavian side was not able to progress to the quarter-finals.
It is without a doubt that Ibrahimovic is one of the greatest players ever to grace the fields of Serie A, but he is also a rarity in the world. One of the very few big men who is as excellent with his feet as he is in the air, perhaps even more so with the former. He also has that incredible ability to combine both the No. 9 and No. 10 roles, with his knack of dropping deep and helping his team start plays while also supplying the goal threat of a traditional No. 9 unparalleled.
While he is now 30 years old he is clearly a player in his prime and although he will physically decline sooner rather than later, the lower level of opposition available in Ligue 1, with all due respect, will help to lessen the effects of this. ‘Ibra’ is one of the greatest league players in history and will help PSG to win Ligue 1 while also being a serious contender for the top scorer award.
It is in the Champions League that ‘Ibra’ & Co. will need to step up to justify their price tags, and it is here that the most questions have been raised over his otherworldly abilities. Arguably, ‘Ibra’ has mostly had bad luck in the Champions League, with the Juventus, Inter and AC Milan teams not of the highest standards and the Barcelona team of 2010 not playing to his strengths as Xavi, Iniesta and Messi were the focal points of that team. This would not be the case in PSG as Ibrahimovic will be handed the keys to the offense, especially since it is clear that Pastore cannot carry the burden all year since he has a history of burning out with fatigue as the season progresses and Lavezzi doesn’t quite have the finishing ability of ‘Ibra’. Ancelotti is a coach with an excellent track record in the Champions League and should be able to find a way to incorporate the attacking talents of Ibrahimovic, Lavezzi, Pastore, and Nene (if he stays) to field a very dangerous PSG team. Ibrahimovic may just be the missing part of that jigsaw.
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Written by Mahmoud Ghellai