The Sweden and Paris Saint German forward, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, was voted world’s number 4 by the Soccer-Laduma journalists.
The outspoken 32-year-old is considered one of the most technical gifted strikers of his generation, but - despite winning 10 league titles in the past 12 years - is yet to win a major international trophy.
Ibrahimovic is known for his finishing, vision and ball control. He is a magnificent target man and one of the best strikers with his back to goal. However, his sheer endless self-confidence lets him appear as arrogant and complacent at times, and his heated mind has already created a lot of incidents off the pitch.
He started his professional career in Sweden at Malmo FF in 1996 and had his first team debut in 1999. Arsene Wenger tried to persuade him to join Arsenal as 17-year-old, but Ibrahimovic instead joined Ajax Amsterdam for €8.7m in March 2001.
At Ajax, he won the 2001-02 Eredivisie title and the Dutch KNVB Cup. He again won the Eredivisie in 2003-04, but was transferred to Juventus after allegedly injuring fellow Ajax teammate, Rafael van der Vaart, in an international match against the Netherlands on purpose.
His €16m move was awarded with two Seria A titles for Juve, but both were later revoked due to his club’s involvement in the Calciopoli scandal, which also saw the the Italian giant being relegated to Seria B in 2006.
Subsequently, Ibrahimovic moved to Inter for €24.8m and he won three straight Scudettos under Roberto Mancini. In the 2008-09 season Ibrahimovic scored 25 goals for Inter and subsequently moved to Barcelona for a deal worth €46m and the exchange of Samual Eto’o (valued €20m) and other fees, making the Swedish striker worth €70m.
In Spain, he won the 2009-10 La Liga title, two Supercopa de Espana, the 2009 UEFA Super Cup and the 2009 FIFA Club World Cup with the Catalan giants. However, he was loaned to AC Milan in August 2010, because his relationship with Barca coach, Pep Guardiola, was broken.
Back in Italy, he won the Supercoppa Italia and his sixth consecutive domestic league title with his fifth European club. After the season, Milan activated their €24m buying option for Ibrahimovic and he finished the 2011-12 season with 28 goals in 32 games before moving on to Paris Saint German for €20m.
This transfer made Ibrahimovic the most expensive footballer in combined transfer fees of over €180m. His €14m net annual salary (incl. bonuses) made him the second best paid footballer behind Samuel Eto’o at the time.
In the 2012-13 season, PSG won their first Ligue 1 title since 1994 and Ibrahimovic scored 30 goal in his first season in France. All together Ibrahimovic scored an astonishing 317 goals and assisted further 135 in all competitions in 591 club games.
On international level, he decided to play for his country of birth, Sweden, even though he was eligible to play for Bosnia and Herzegovnia or Croatia. He made his international debut as a 19-year-old in 2001.
He participated in the EURO's in 2004, 2008 and 2012 as well as in the 2002 and 2006 World Cup, but Sweden never made it far in these tournaments. He is the captain of his national team since 2011, but could not prevent them from not qualifying for the 2014 World Cup.
In the new season Ibrahimovic’s goal tally stands at 15 Ligue 1 goals and he also scored eight goals in just five Champions League games, guiding PSG to the knockout stages.
Ibrahimovic has become famous for his outspoken mind and recently stated “a World Cup without me is nothing to watch.” One of his most well-known statements came after being criticised by John Carew: “What Carew does with a football, I can do with an orange.”
There is nothing more to say, besides that Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s revival of Paris Saint German reserved him his spot in Soccer-Laduma’s world’stop 10.
By David Kappel