Zlatan Ibrahimovic is one of the two Ligue 1 Centre Forward’s of the Year:With 46.83% of the vote, the panel of French football experts and the public have voted Zlatan Ibrahimovic into the Ligue 1 Team of the Year 2012-2013.
Prolific: certainly a word that one would use to describe the manner in which Ibrahimovic went about his business this season.
The big Swede’s decision to move to Paris in the summer of 2012 was a bold one, joining PSG’s ambitious project for a fee of €20m. This combined with all his other previous transfer fees made Zlatan the most expensive footballer of all time. Despite rumours that he would receive a salary of about €15m a year, Ibrahimovic insisted he had moved for the ‘project’ and not the money.
The big-mouthed man has certainly lived up to expectations. Not only has he been ever reliant in front of goal but he has become a symbol of the recent wealth PSG have inherited and a leader, even captaining the club on several occasions this season.
The stats don’t lie. 35 goals in his first 46 appearances means the Swede currently averages at 0.76 goals per game for Les Parisiens, a mighty feat. In his first game for the club he came off the bench to score twice and salvage a draw vs Lorient. This set the tone for his excellent form as the season continued.
One can be in no doubt; Ibrahimovic is one of the most difficult attackers for any defence in the world to come up against. As Joseph Lopy, Sochaux’s midfielder confirmed to Get French Football News in a recent interview. His height and aerial abilities make it very difficult for the opposition to beat him in the air. Once ‘Ibra’ (as he is commonly referred to) has the ball at his feet, his sharp burst of acceleration in unpredictable directions make it next to impossible for an opponent to lunge in and take the ball from him, for fear of humiliation.
Even if defenders decide to just stick to him as tightly as possible, Ibrahimovic’s supreme upper body strength will enable him to win tussles and get a shot away with that lethal right foot of his. That is not say he cannot score with both feet, scoring 8 goals with the left, his weak side, this season.
He also played a pivotal role in PSG’s Champions League campaign. The Swede topped the assists’ table, with no less than 7 key passes. When he scored his penalty against Dynamo Kiev in the group stage, he become the 1st ever player to score for 6 different teams in the Champions League.
Last month, he was awarded the Ligue 1 Player of the Year award by the UNFP, the union of professional footballers in their annual awards ceremony.
Despite all the success, Zlatan has certainly been a figure of controversy in the capital this season. After PSG’s title winning match against Evian, he proceeded to involve himself in a shouting match with Sporting Director Leonardo, saying: ‘why do you always have to ruin everything’ when the Brazilian asked Ibra to go take a mandatory drugs test. Earlier on in the 2012-2013 season, he responded to criticism from PSG fans by saying: ‘It is ironic that the PSG fans want so much, considering that before this season they had nothing.’
The Swede is said to be disappointed in Carlo Ancelotti’s decision to leave PSG and it initially seemed that Ibra’s future with Les Parisiens was unsure for the next campaign, giving an interview to TF1’s programme Telefoot. However, super agent Mino Raiola has since confirmed to the press that his client will remain with PSG for the 2013-2014 season.
One thing is for sure, Ibrahimovic has been the spearhead of PSG’s revolution in Ligue 1 this season and he absolutely deserves the plaudits he currently receives. The goal that he scored vs England (for Sweden) in a friendly earlier this year is testament to the fact that Ibra is at the top of his game and at the peak of his career. He has that bit of quality that one is born with. This combined with his hilariously arrogant character amuses and dazzles the French football world. PSG, or anyone for that matter, would be lucky to have him.