One day prior to the opening of the international transfer market, one of the top available players announced his next destination. Elite striker Zlatan Ibrahimović, who announced before the end of the Ligue 1 season that he would be moving on after four seasons with French champions Paris Saint-Germain, posted to his Instagram account that he will be making the long-rumored move to Manchester United.
The reason for the delay in making this decision public was a $3.9 million loyalty bonus in his PSG contract, which stipulated that he would have to be a member of the club (contract-wise) until June 30. Old Trafford and Major League Soccer, likely with the L.A. Galaxy, were the two destinations most discussed for Zlatan during the spring, but in the end Zlatan decided to join one of the sport’s most storied clubs in the one league he’s yet to conquer.
According to The Guardian, Zlatan will receive a weekly salary of £220,000, which isn’t chump change even with recent developments in England (#Brexit) and their impact on the financial markets. Here’s what you need to know about one of football’s most interesting (and productive) players.
1. Zlatan Just Produced His Best Season as a Professional
For some, being 34 years of age means that they’re already having to deal with the deterioration of their skills. Not so with Zlatan, who this past season at Paris Saint-Germain posted his best individual campaign as a professional. Zlatan scored a Ligue 1-best 38 goals in 31 appearances, which works out to an average of 1.23 goals per appearance.
In all competitions Zlatan scored 50 goals in 51 appearances, the second time in the past three seasons that he’s managed to rack up at least 40 goals. Those numbers helped PSG accomplish the domestic treble, as they won the Ligue 1, Coupe de France and Coupe de la Ligue titles. Zlatan tallied 41 goals in all competitions during the 2013-14 campaign for PSG, and three of his best statistical seasons occurred while representing PSG.
2. He’s Been a Member of League Championship Clubs in 4 Countries
When you’re as talented as Ibrahimović is, you tend to land with prestigious, successful clubs. During his career Zlatan has been a member of domestic league champion sides in the Netherlands (Ajax), Italy (Inter, AC Milan), Spain (Barcelona) and France (PSG). Overall Zlatan has been a member of 11 domestic league championship teams, which doesn’t count the two he won as a member of Juventus in 2004-05 and 2005-06.
Those two titles were nullified as a result of the Calciopoli scandal that also saw the Bianconeri relegated to Serie B as punishment. In total Ibrahimović has won 26 trophies in all domestic competitions.
However for all his success at the domestic level, Zlatan has yet to be part of a team that won the Champions League. That run won’t end next season at Old Trafford since Manchester United will be in the Europa League, but the goal of getting back to (and ultimately winning) the Champions League is why the Red Devils brought in the man who Zlatan will play for next season.
3. Zlatan & New Manager José Mourinho Share Some History Together
Zlatan also shares some history with Mourinho, as they were together at Inter during the 2008-09 campaign. Zlatan scored 29 goals in all competitions as the Nerazzuri won Serie A but were bounced by Manchester United in the round of 16 in the UEFA Champions League. Like Zlatan, Mourinho has won domestic league titles in four different countries, doing so in Portugal, England, Italy and Spain.
Unlike Zlatan however, “The Special One” has enjoyed continental success as well. Mourinho’s led Porto (2003-04) and Inter (2009-10) to Champions League glory as manager. The second of those trophies came the season after Zlatan transferred from Inter to FC Barcelona (with Samuel Eto’o going in the opposite direction), which won the Champions League in 2009. Tough luck for Ibrahimović in that regard. The two will now look to work together in rejuvenating a club that has won the Champions League three times in their history.
4. Zlatan Retired From International Football Following EURO 2016 in France
Zlatan represented Sweden at EURO 2016 in France, with his second-half cross leading to an own goal that salvaged a 1-1 draw against Ireland in the Swedes’ tournament opener. But he was held scoreless in three games as the Swedes were bounced from the tournament, with Ibrahimović announcing his retirement from international football prior to their finale against Belgium. Ibrahimović had captained his national team since just before the start of qualifications for EURO 2012, and in his international career has scored 62 goals for the Swedish national team.
During EURO 2016 Zlatan was named to the country’s provisional 35-man roster for the Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Obviously with Zlatan announcing his retirement from the international game during the Euros, he won’t be making that trip to represent his country one last time.
5. One of the World’s Richest Athletes, Zlatan Is Also One of the Most Interesting
Ibrahimović has put together an interesting career, and that isn’t solely focusing on his exploits on the pitch either. A native of Malmö, Sweden, Zlatan practiced martial arts as a youngster and earned a black belt in tae kwon do as a 17-year old. That training, not to mention his size at 6-foot-5, have certainly aided Zlatan as he’s become one of the sport’s most prolific goal scorers.
With the production comes the large salary, with Forbes Magazine estimating Zlatan’s 2016 salary to be $37.4 million when taking into consideration his wages and endorsements. That placed him 23rd on the list of the world’s richest athletes. Zlatan and longtime partner have two children, Vincent and Maximillian, and he’s simply a family man and not the larger than life figure the public sees when at home.
“I don’t want them to see their father like my supporters see me,” Ibrahimović told Donald McRae of The Guardian back in 2014. “Wherever I go people recognise me. They want a picture of me. But at home I want to be Pappa. I don’t want to be Zlatan. When I go out I represent my club and myself, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, but at home I’m 100% a family person.”