It has been reported today that Chelsea have made a bid to take the Swedish striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic away from Inter Milan, and the player has been quoted as saying that he is flattered to be linked with them.
He is quoted as saying: “I am fully aware that Chelsea want to sign me and, of course, it is very flattering. They are one of the biggest teams in Europe and the Premier League is one of the best leagues in the world.”
And although Inter Milan pay Ibrahimovich a massive £10m a year, the prolific striker says that his proposed move would not be about the money. He said: “Money is not the most important thing. I will base my decision on what’s good for me, what suits me.
“It is about asking: will I still be able to be special in the league that I am going to, the team I am going to? Are my qualities right for the Premier League or not?”
This is a big worry for Chelsea, because to invest £60m in a player, and then finds that he cannot perform in the Premiership, would be disaster that would dwarf the £30m wasted on bringing Andriy Shevchenko from Inter’s rivals AC Milan.
So do the facts point to him being a success in England?
There is no doubt that he can score goals, but he has only played in three leagues, Sweden, Holland and Italy. He started at his local side Malmo, who were a not-too-successful side at the time. In fact they were relegated in his first season there. His record of 16 goals in 40 games was still reasonably successful.
The Arsenal coach Arsene Wenger famously expressed an interest at the time, but he opted to move to the Dutch giants Ajax, in a deal worth 7.8m euros, to continue his development.
Ronald Koeman gave him his starting place as Ajax went on to win the title, and he sprang to the attention of the world when he scored both goals on his Champions League debut in a 2-1 win over Lyon. In 74 appearances for Ajax he scored a respectable 35 goals.
After falling out with team-mate Rafael Van De Vaart, Ibrahimovich was sold to the Italian giants Juventus for 19m euros, but with complaints about being played out of position and some lacklustre displays, he was finally allowed to join Inter Milan, where his goalscoring prowess became evident again.
So far he scored 57 goals in 88 games for the Italian Champions and finished top scorer in Serie A last season as Inter won the title again.
At 6’3″ he certainly has the physique to deal with Premiership defenders, and his ability to carve out chances in a second is going to be needed if he comes to England, but whether he can be as successful for Chelsea as, say, Didier Drogba, is yet to be proven.
And that comment raise yet another question, what would happen to Drogba if Ibrahimovich did arrive at Stamford Bridge?
I can’t see him happy to be playing second fiddle to the Swede, but would the obvious solution be for him to rejoin Jose Mourinho in Italy?