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FEATURE | Analysing Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s move to AC Milan

In the 2018/19 Serie A season, AC Milan missed out on Champions League by one point finishing behind Inter Milan for fourth place. Additionally, the Rossoneri did not advance out of the group stage in the Europa League. The challenges in their campaign led Milan Coach Gennaro Gattuso to resign.

As the two-time Serie A and Champions League winner as a player with Milan decided to move on, the club elected to hire Sampdoria manager Marco Giampaolo to succeed in his position. His time was short lived with Milan as the club decided to replace him with Stefano Pioli after seven games. The recently hired managed has fared much better in his time with Milan, however, an area of concern this season has been goals.

After a poor start, Rossoneri fans will hope that the signing of Zlatan Ibrahimovic will change this as they continue into the second half of the season. Before signing the Swedish striker, Milan’s highest scorers consisted of striker Krsytof Piatek and left back Theo Hernandez, with four goals each. Of the fifteen goals Milan has scored this season, eleven of those have been from the midfield and defense which is not good enough for a club that has high expectations.

The deal comes as a low risk, yet high reward for the club. The Swede is signed by the club for six months with an option to extend for another year.

“These six months will be key to see if I’m in form and can provide results. Otherwise I’m not going to stay just to be here. That doesn’t interest me,” Ibrahimovic revealed. “The challenge of being at the top level provides me with a lot of adrenaline. I haven’t seen many 38-year-old footballers return to a club like this.”

Was it a good move by AC Milan to sign Ibrahimovic? At 38 years old, he still has the ability to score and has shown no sign of slowing down in his career. The striker’s worst season dates back to 2005/06 when he was a member of Juventus and scored seven goals in 35 games in the Serie A. While he has not played in Europe in the last two seasons as he elected to join the LA Galaxy and play in the Major League Soccer, this shouldn’t hinder the striker’s abilities and play upfront.

The forward has accumulated over 500 career games in Europe, playing with clubs such as Juventus, AC Milan, Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester United. With the amount of experience that the Swede has gained in his professional career and his understanding of how to play at a higher level, it shouldn’t take him long before he finds his stride up front with the Rossoneri. After this signing, Piatek’s time with Milan could be coming to an end and he may be sold either in the January or summer transfer window.

This past summer Milan decided to bring in a lot of promising youth players such as Rafael Leao, Rade Krunic and Hernandez while veterans including Ignazio Abate, Riccardo Montolino and Cristian Zapata all left the club. When they have trailed in their matches this season, there has not been an experienced, vocal player on the field to help bring the team morale back up. At times, the team has looked uninterested and unmotivated to play, such as in their 5-0 loss against Atalanta. Ibrahimovic will provide the leadership that this club been missing this season.

While scoring has been a problem this season, being to able to create chances has been another area for concern for the Rossoneri. “If I don’t score, I make assists or do other things to help the team,” Ibrahimovic explained to ESPN.

The forward certainly checks that box off for scoring as he has the ability to score and assist. Milan has lacked any physicality in the box when they have possession upfront or any player who could work with the ball and create any chances. The Swede is known for his strength, agility, willingness to play with his back to the net, finishing touches, vision, passing and ball control. These are areas which could benefit the team.

“Cleary, I can’t play like I did when I was 28,” Ibrahimovic admitted, “but I know what I can do. You mustn’t overdo it when you play. Instead of running, you can shoot from 40m.”

The two strikers available to Pioli, Piatek and Leao, have scored one goal apiece from open play which is not good enough. Milan need Ibrahimovic to make an impact and they’re hoping that he will be able to work some of his magic to turn things around for the Rossoneri.

JM

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