Minggu, 01 Januari 2012


AC Milan striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic has billed Carlos Tevez as the “extra weapon” that could fire the Rossoneri title ambitions at home and in Europe, but believes the Argentine’s arrival will pose a great team choice conundrum for coach Massimiliano Allegri.

Manchester City wantaway Tevez is said to be close to completing the deal that would take him away from the Premier League and Ibrahimovic is confident the 29-year-old has what it takes to succeed in Serie A.

Milan are in talks with City to bring the troubled star to the San Siro, and Ibrahimovic, who is currently in Dubai with the Rossoneri, said: “For me Tevez is a great player.

“I don’t know how the situation is and if he’s coming or if he’s not coming. But he’s a great player and if he comes for sure he will do a great job for us. It would be an extra weapon for us.

“Everybody knows what kind of a player Tevez is. He’s fantastic and will bring extra quality to the team. He hasn’t been training for at least three months I think so it will take him time to get back into shape or maybe he’s already in shape, I don’t know.”

The Sweden international added: “We’re already many strikers in the team so if he comes there will be more of us. It’s up to the coach [Allegri], who will play if Tevez comes and there will be some choices to be made. Those who are playing right now will want to do better, but it will not be easy for the coach.”

Ibra, who has scored 25 goals in 42 Serie A outings for Milan, says he does not feel threatened by Tevez’s impending arrival.

“I’m happy if he comes because he brings extra quality and confidence to the team and makes the situation even more harder for us. It makes you think that you have to put better performance in the field all the time,” he added.

Ibrahimovic won the 2009 FIFA Club World Cup while at Barcelona, but has never triumphed in Europe’s top club competition the Champions League, despite having plied his trade at some of the biggest clubs on the continent, including Inter Milan, Ajax and Juventus. And it is his ambition to achieve success in the competition with Milan, who have made it to the knockout phase of this season’s competition where they find themselves against English giants Arsenal.

“It’s a very important game against a good team that is doing well in England, but this is the Champions League and anything can happen. We look forward to the game. It’s going to be an exciting and difficult game and it’s funny to play a difficult game. Playing against Arsenal is always big and you have to do your best,” said Ibra.

The Swede is also pleased that Arsenal have Thierry Henry back in their squad after the Frenchman completed a loan deal recently from New York Red Bulls.

“I’m happy for Thierry Henry that he’s got a chance to play for Arsenal again because it’s the team that’s in his heart. When we were at Barcelona he spoke a lot about Arsenal and I’m happy for Arsenal also because he’s a great player, who has made history in football and it’s an extra bonus for them,” he added.

Ibrahimovic won three straight Serie A titles with Inter – 2007, 2008, 2009 – before moving to Barca, but as Milan find themselves tied at the top of the table alongside his former club Juve half-way through the season, he feels the race for the Scudetto could go down to the wire.

“It will be an exciting season, not only Juventus, Udinese, Napoli and Roma are all going strong. It will be a struggle at the beginning, but it’s good for Italian football because it makes your team even better and you have to do even better to win the Scudetto then,” he added.

Ibrahimovic has 74 Sweden caps and has played in three World Cups and two European Championships since debuting for the country in 2001.

Sweden have qualified for Euro 2012, but find themselves in a tough Group D alongside Ukraine, France and England, and he firmly believes it will require a “miracle” for the Swedes to win this time around.

At 30, it could be his last European Championship, Ibra said: “I try to win everything I play for. Sweden is a small country and we made it to the World Cup and European Championships and what happens there happens there.

“If we win there it will be a miracle, if we don’t win it, it won’t be a miracle, but we will have hope always. The mentality is there and we want to win and we do our best to win and in football you never know.

“Spain, Holland and Italy are strong teams, but we go into the tournament one game at a time. It’s not an easy group and we’re just happy that we made it and what happens there happens.

“I want to continue what I am doing and want to be fit all season and play like I have been playing so far... hopefully everything will go good.”

Ibrahimovic lauded foreign investment in clubs, particularly from Gulf investors like Abu Dhabi’s Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan (Manchester City) and Qatar Investment Authority (Paris St Germain, Milan’s friendly rivals in Dubai on Wednesday), which has helped the smaller clubs punch above their weight.

“I think it’s good for football that teams like City and PSG [that these investors have come in]. They have big money to buy big players and they make the competition more difficult for the bigger teams. Football will develop even more and become even better so it’s good,” he said, adding it would be good to see David Beckham, linked with PSG, returning to European football.

“The team is doing good and have a big coach [Carlo Ancelotti] and are looking at the future. They are making big investments by bringing big players like Beckham. Seems like Beckham is still hungry to win and play football and he comes back to Europe, which is good for PSG also because it’s a big club. They have been doing well over the last few years and this year too. I think it’s [foreign investment] good for football because it makes the competition more difficult for the bigger teams.”

As far his own ambitions with Milan go, there’s no doubt he would hate to see the Rossoneri losing out on silverware, especially to some of the also rans.

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