Ibrahimovic is not bigger than Milan, says Maldini

By Sports Desk March 11, 2021

Milan legend Paolo Maldini has dismissed suggestions Zlatan Ibrahimovic is bigger than the club.

Ibrahimovic has been a revelation since returning to Milan for a second spell in late December 2019, with the evergreen 39-year-old spearheading the club's Scudetto charge this term.

The former Manchester United and Paris Saint-Germain striker – out of contract at the end of this season – has scored 14 Serie A goals in 2020-21 to help Milan up to second position, six points adrift of city rivals Inter.

Maldini is now technical director at Milan and rates Ibrahimovic as a "huge resource", but he believes the club sit well positioned to withstand the Swede's departure if he does not extend his contract at San Siro.

"The truth is, the club is above any player because the players pass through, and the club remains," Maldini told So Foot.

"There are players who leave a different mark than others, and Zlatan is one of them.

"He's a motivator. He's a character that can seem complicated to deal with, but for those who manage to draw all of his qualities, he's a huge resource.

"The club is above any player, and that goes for everyone, because it comes from our way of being leaders in our field."

Milan's excellent season has given them a chance of securing a first Serie A title since the 2010-11 campaign, while they are on course to return to the Champions League for the first time since 2013-14 when they were knocked out in the last 16 by Atletico Madrid.

Despite their lengthy absence from European football's showpiece competition, Italy and Rossoneri great Maldini is adamant Milan are still a hugely attractive proposition for new players.

"Trust me, Milan haven't qualified for the Champions League for eight years, but when Milan call, players around the world are still dreaming," he said.

"Of course, we are looking to the future, but the past, which we must respect, matters. When your name is Milan and you call a player, you are one of the three most successful clubs in the world. We must always remember this.

"I believe that Milan, in Italy without the slightest doubt and in Europe as well, is considered a virtuous club."

Milan faced Manchester United in the first leg of their Europa League last-16 clash on Thursday, and they host Napoli in Serie A on Sunday.

Related items

  • Courtois celebrates Champions League final heroics with brick wall tattoo Courtois celebrates Champions League final heroics with brick wall tattoo

    Thibaut Courtois has commemorated his man-of-the-match performance in the Champions League final after unveiling a tattoo of a brick wall on his arm.

    The Belgium international produced an inspired display between the sticks as Real Madrid edged out Liverpool 1-0 at Stade de France to claim their 14th continental crown.

    Courtois' nine saves during the match made up the highest tally in a single Champions League final since at least 2003-04, surpassing Liverpool's Allison (in 2019) and Manchester United's Edwin Van der Sar (in 2011), both with eight.

    He also set a new benchmark with the number of saves he made during Madrid's run (59)

    The Reds finished the final having attempted 24 shots, the most on record from a team who failed to score in European football's showpiece match.

    It stands to reason then that Courtois should want something to remember the final by, and he has settled on a new tattoo, revealed to his 10.5 million Instagram followers.

    The design has Courtois' initials and shirt number set against a brick wall next to the Champions League trophy.

  • 'I've never seen real leadership from him' – Legrottaglie questions whether Juventus should fight for De Ligt 'I've never seen real leadership from him' – Legrottaglie questions whether Juventus should fight for De Ligt

    Matthijs de Ligt has never shown "real leadership" with Juventus and the club might do well to offload him, according to former Bianconeri defender Nicola Legrottaglie.

    The Netherlands centre-back is under contract at the Allianz Stadium until June 2024, but could soon be on the move after three years in Italy.

    Chelsea have been linked with a move for the 22-year-old, who has been a regular in the heart of the Juventus defence since arriving from Ajax for €85.5million in July 2019.

    The centre-half has racked up 117 appearances across all competitions, scoring eight goals, and winning the Serie A title during his first season.

    In 87 Serie A games, he has committed just one error leading to a goal, yet Legrottaglie has not been wholly convinced by De Ligt.

    With the Chelsea rumour now circling, Legrottaglie said: "If the boy was really convinced he wanted to leave, I don't know how much it would be better for Juventus to keep him at home against his will."

    Legrottaglie, who also played for Italy, believes there are plenty of admirable elements about De Ligt's game.

    "In terms of characteristics, I have always liked the player," Legrottaglie told Tuttojuve.com. "I believe, however, that he has never really immersed himself into the environment.

    "I have never seen real leadership from him; from the outside, he has been perceived as a bit separate from the group. Let's say he didn't do everything to make himself loved."

    De Ligt remarked that Torino centre-back Gleison Bremer and Napoli's Kalidou Koulibaly might have the attributes to bolster the Juventus defence, after back-to-back fourth-placed finishes in Serie A.

    He also pointed to the likely high cost of such players, and said: "It is not certain that with a great champion you necessarily do better, especially in defence. What counts is the work of the department, which often makes up for the quality of the individual."

    Speaking in early June to Dutch outlet NOS, De Ligt said talks about his Juventus future had been taking place, adding: "When the time comes, I will decide whether I will extend or whether I want to look further.

    "I always look at what is best for myself in terms of the sporting project. Fourth place twice in a row is not good enough; we will have to make steps in that direction."

  • Napoli striker Osimhen says facial injury was like a 'near-death' experience Napoli striker Osimhen says facial injury was like a 'near-death' experience

    Napoli forward Victor Osimhen has described the facial injury he suffered last season against Inter as "like a near-death injury".

    The Nigeria international was hurt in a clash of heads with Nerazzurri defender Milan Skriniar during Inter's 3-2 win against Napoli at San Siro in November.

    Osimhen, who has been linked with the likes of Arsenal and Manchester United in recent weeks, needed surgery on his face and did not return to action until mid-January.

    Despite that lay-off, the 23-year-old scored 18 times in 32 appearances for Luciano Spalletti's side in all competitions last season.

    His 14 league goals also meant Osimhen became the first Nigerian to achieve double figures in two straight Serie A terms, while he became just the fourth African player to achieve the feat in the Italian top flight after George Weah for Milan, Samuel Eto'o for Inter and Mohamed Salah for Roma.

    Speaking to Wazobia FM, Osimhen detailed his injury against Inter and the mentality he needed to come back.

    "As I got to the hospital, I told my doctor that I would be out for two weeks maximum," he said.

    "When the scan came out, I fractured many bones, which they had to remove and fix inside again. I have like 18 screws under my jaw. I went through a lot.

    "I could not sleep, I could not eat with the pain. But at the end of the day, I am a lion, and I know the kind of mentality I have.

    "In my mind, I had already scheduled my return following the surgery."

    Osimhen returned for the 2-0 win at Bologna in which Hirving Lozano scored both goals, with Napoli ultimately ending the season in third place in Serie A.

© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.