Friday afternoon question: Does Ibrahimovic deserve more credit?
Inter Milan striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic is every manager’s dream, or at least he should be. He’s tall, good in the air but also skilful on the ground and ruthless in the penalty area.
Inter coach Roberto Mancini knows he has a special player. He rarely rests him in Serie A but makes sure not to risk him in the much-maligned Italian Cup, even in Wednesday’s 2-2 home draw against former club Juve.
“A great player has won it for us at the end,” Mancini said last Sunday after Ibra scored twice in the last few minutes as unbeaten leaders Inter came from behind to edge Parma 3-2. The Swede also netted a brace in the previous week’s win at Siena.
Yet despite being joint top scorer in Serie A with 13 goals and in the Champions League with five, Ibrahimovic does not seem to command the same respect as other top strikers in Europe.
He didn’t even make the list of nominations for FIFA world player of the year in 2007 and Inter fans were furious.
Of course, Juventus supporters hate him after he quit the club following their match-fixing demotion to go to their biggest rivals. However, their anger mainly springs from the fact he is playing 10 times better for Inter than he did in Turin.
He has easily been the best player in Italy this term, smashing them in from all distances and setting up team mates with delightful flicks or passes. Six converted penalties also demonstrates his coolness under pressure.
He sometimes gets mentioned as a transfer target in Spain but you rarely hear of the big English clubs being interested, and he never seems to be a serious candidate for the top international awards.
Why is that, do you think? Are the Italians wrong to regard him as one of the world’s best? And, for that matter, is there a better out-and-out striker in the world these days? Let us know in the comments.
PHOTO: Ibrahimovic gestures at the Swedish Sports Awards 2008 Gala after being presented with the Jerring Award in Stockholm, January 14, 2008. REUTERS/Fredrik Sandberg/Scanpix