Agent Mino Raiola has spoken about the future of Zlatan Ibrahimovic and couldn’t resist a joke about making more money off the striker.
The Swede continues to prove the doubters wrong as he is having an excellent season with Milan at the age of 39 in his second campaign since returning to the club in January 2020. He has 15 Serie A goals in the same amount of games, helping propel the Rossoneri into a title charge in the process.
Now, there is an abundance of speculation regarding his future with most major sources in agreement that he will stay beyond the end of the season and sign a new deal with Milan, allowing him to lead the team into the Champions League again all being well.
Raiola spoke during an interview with The Athletic and was asked about what the future might hold for Ibrahimovic, and the possibility of playing on for another few years yet.
“I always say, ‘I don’t just want to carry my player’s bag in his career, I want to put something in the bag’. And that’s not only money, it’s experience, it’s life. You try to make the right decisions. It’s not easy and it comes with a lot of responsibility, believe me, when you have to make decisions involving somebody’s life,” Raiola said.
“Everybody knows the relationship I have with my players is very strong. Zlatan has had 20 years with me, so the relationship with him is even stronger. Zlatan is stronger than he even knows. But I am also there to protect him, to say, ‘Listen, you’re making a fool of yourself, stop’. That has to be my job, to look at him and say, ‘You know, don’t do this’.
“He needs to play another three or four years for himself. And then (smiling), he plays another eight years where all revenues go only to me. So for at least until he is 50.”
There has been a war of words in the media recently between Zlatan and LeBron James of the LA Lakers. In a recent interview, Ibrahimovic was asked about the sport and also took the opportunity to make a comment on LeBron James, calling him ‘phenomenal in what he does’ but adding ‘I don’t like what people with a certain status interfere with politics.’
James seemingly didn’t like the comments of Ibrahimovic and made his stance very clear in an interview with CBS. He also stated that the Swede did exactly the same thing back in 2018, when he complained about racism in Sweden.
Raiola responded to the verbal altercation: “I was not surprised. He has a strong belief that politics and sport don’t go together and that athletes should unite people, not divide people.
“I told Zlatan 25 years ago, ‘You need to be strong with the strong and weak with weak — not strong with the weak, or weak with the strong’. It means that if you have something to say, you cannot say it only to the little trainer. You say it to someone like Sir Alex Ferguson. So he said it this time to LeBron James because obviously, he’s an icon. And Zlatan is, also.
“Zlatan is convinced that athletes and politics should not mix. He doesn’t want to be turned and torn into politics. And I think that is right, because, for example, I don’t agree that there should be pressure on players to condemn the Qatar World Cup or make a statement about it. The players were not the ones who chose Qatar for a World Cup. They are not part of FIFA. So why should they make a statement now when the players only want to do the best on their highest platform, which is the World Cup?”