Ibrahimovic on ‘uneasy’ decisions for the future and irrefutable Milan return offer

By Ben Dixon -

At today’s ‘Business of Football Summit’, AC Milan legend Zlatan Ibrahimovic, discussed a range of different topics alongside the club’s owner Gerry Cardinale, including his return to the club and his excitement for the future.

Ibrahimovic’s Milan return brought several questions with it. There can be arguments that before his return, there was less speculation, but when his dual role to RedBird and the Rossoneri was announced, there were several queries about his role and what he would be doing at the club.

As we get gradually closer to a hugely important summer for the club, questions are as rife as ever. Firstly, there have been several reports about the Swede’s involvement in the search and communications for a new manager if Stefano Pioli is to leave the club.

Furthermore, there have been queries about how involved he will be with the club’s recruitment, and with the club set to spend big on a new striker this summer, his involvement could be vital for the future of the position.

Ultimately, though, as stated by Rafael Leao in an interview this week, his presence may be the biggest asset of his return. There is no denying that with the club losing him and Paolo Maldini around Milanello, there could have been a lack of experience, and with him back regularly, the players have regained a focal point.

Zlatan, alongside Cardinale, discussed several topics including the offer he received to come back to Milan and the freedom of life outside football – his comments have been relayed by MilanNews.

How did Cardinale get you to accept this role? Did he promise you to become a billionaire?

“And who says I’m not already? [he laughs]. I met Cardinale three months after I retired from playing football, I got to know him and he was open to the way I live, the way I do things. When you are a professional footballer you follow a specific schedule and your life is less free, then finally I was free…

“But Gerry sent me a photo and made me an offer I couldn’t refuse. Cardinale opened doors for me, he gave me an opportunity in a different world that was not my ‘normal’ one. But I am excited, I have a lot of ambition. Everything is new, I am starting from scratch. I have so much to learn, so much to improve, but so much desire to do my best step by step. I’m focused on Milan. The secret to success is hard work. We have great ambition: there is Cardinale’s vision and the Italian vision.”

What is your relationship with the staff? What has changed?

“I don’t have much to say, it’s easy… No, I’m joking! I am a former player, I was with these guys until a few months ago. There is a huge respect between us and, of course, the situation has changed with the role I have today. You have to make decisions that are not easy, not to be friends, for the good of the team, the club and for the future.

“I have to help differently. I am confident for the future: it’s a young, beautiful team, you can win, the team is improving, the management around it is growing; there are different mentalities, different opinions.”

How is Serie A?

“Obviously, there is a big gap between Serie A and the other leagues, starting with the budget. There is a domino effect: with all due respect to Serie A, there is no competition. Something new is needed. For example, with the new stadium, Gerry will give the fans what they need.

“San Siro will miss me more than I will miss San Siro. I have great memories in that stadium, it is a historic stadium and a lot of history has been made there, but everything has a new beginning. With the new stadium there’s a chance to do something incredible, something crazy,” he stated.

“Milan don’t own San Siro, but they want to own the stadium to do what they want; everything has a new beginning: for the fans, it will be something ‘massive’, for the players they will look forward to playing there.”

De Laurentiis said that agents are a disease to football…

“Agents will always be there, they have so much influence. Their job is very varied: they have to protect the player and make him grow in football. I had the best agent [Mino Raiola], but their contribution depends on how much power and influence you give them.”

What do you think of the Saudi League?

“When certain offers come it’s hard to refuse, but football is for everyone, but I don’t think it will affect European football. It’s a good thing because it brings new money into football.”

What will your future be?

“Difficult to know. Working with Cardinale takes me to another level. I have so much to learn, and so much to improve. I want to go inside the things of sport, of business. I don’t want to do normal things, but I want to make a difference. I want to try to make a difference. I don’t have much experience in business, but I’m not afraid and I like challenges.”

The full video of the interview done by the Financial Times can be found using the link below.

Tags AC Milan Zlatan Ibrahimovic
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