Zlatan Ibrahimovic – The new Van Basten
“My time will come!” Zlatan Ibrahimovic made this bullish prediction in 2001 as a raw 20-year-old, five months into his first season with Ajax. Six years later, the forward, now playing for Inter Milan, is one of the world’s most outstanding footballers.
Many experts and fans compare Ibrahimovic with Van Hasten, which was perhaps inevitable from the moment that the tall, gangly striker pulled on the Ajax number nine jersey after joining the Eredivisie club from Malmo in his native Sweden. But not everybody sees the similarity. Ibrahimovic’s fellow Swede, the former England coach, Sven-Goran Eriksson, said recently: “In Italy they compare Ibrahimovic with Van Basten. I’m not convinced. Zlatan is Zlatan; he’s unique. He’s a giant with the technique of a Brazilian.”
Before the 2006 FIFA World Cup, Eriksson had tipped Ibrahimovic to become the “best in the world.” Now coach at Manchester City, Eriksson says, rather optimistically: “If Roberto Mancini ever gees tired of Ibrahimovic, he should call me. I would take him immediately, at any price.”