career Choices

How Zlatan Ibrahimovic nearly joined Arsenal

Swede turned down Premiership glory for, er, Eredivisie glory

Zlatan Ibrahimovic

Today, Swedish international Zlatan Ibrahimovic finds himself with one of the biggest salaries in professional football, paid by the leaders of Serie A.

However, as a humble nineteen year old at Malmo (the football team, not the range of low cost flat pack furniture), the striker came very close to joining Professor Wenger at Arsenal. Back then, of course, The Gunners were busy winning league trophies, rather than “aiming for third place” (Anelka’s words, not ours).

Ibrahimovic told Eurosport why he chose Ajax instead:

“When I was in Malmo there was someone who invited me to Arsenal to see Mr Wenger.

“And I went there, I saw Patrick Vieira and the other big players who were there and when I met Wenger we spoke a little bit.

“Then I also had Monaco, Ajax and Roma who contacted me. But in the end Ajax were keener. I think it was a better solution for me even if Wenger is doing fantastic job with the young guys.”

Most budding strikers would have found Arsenal to be the better option, but we’re inclined to agree that he made the wise choice in going Dutch. In matches against English opposition, Ibrahimovic is almost always ineffective, perhaps suggesting an incompatibility with Premier League football.

9 responses so far
  • Mattuso // April 24, 2009 at 2:41 pm

    imagine how good a player he could have been

  • Luis // April 24, 2009 at 2:58 pm

    Well, in a manner, Arsenal under Wenger has been a bit of a Ajax-esque team; all due to their already known policy to nurture young talent.

    The difference in the last-10-years-Ajax is the fact that they don’t have the healthy finances Arsenal has, therefore they’re being forced to sell a lot of star players when they aren’t mature enough, which causes many of them ending up in obscurity (or the bench)when they could have been cracks (e.g. Mido, Babel)

    I think had Zlatan went to Arsenal, he could probably be even better than he is now at Inter, I don’t know, maybe be in the final three for player of the year?

    What do you fellows think?

  • Bojan // April 24, 2009 at 5:19 pm

    Zlatan is not incomplicit with the English league, and I say that having watched his performance against Man U when he still played for Ajax. He was an enigma for them. Also, Man U and most of the top English teams today are not representing traditional “English” game, but the world game. And in the last ten years, the type of football has changed in England dramatically.

  • Bolokis // April 24, 2009 at 7:58 pm

    Ibra not looking so hot against Man U has more to do with his squad not being as good as Man U. He looked like the smart kid stuck in the Special Ed class.

    There is hardly any connection between the “Premier League” and the “English game.” The style of European football has converged, not in the least because the ethnic make-up of the squads has converged. Instead of 8 Italians and the Dutch trio, not only can Milan can load up on as many (insert EU country) as it wants, if it can prove that their Italian grandfathers impregnated a buffalo, it can load up on as many Brazilians as it wants. Such free movement of labor makes money a more important factor of success. The Premier League is the top league because the fans are the most willing (and able) to fund the product.

    Don’t ever confuse that with a superiority of the English game. The US will win a World Cup before England is awarded another.

  • Caroline // April 25, 2009 at 8:59 am

    Ibra not looking so hot against Man U has more to do with his squad not being as good as Man U. He looked like the smart kid stuck in the Special Ed class.

    Hahaha! Exactly…well said.

    It always amazes me to see that people don’t understand that one player, however amazing he is, cannot expect to play for a whole team that screams of mediocrity.

    Zlatan in THAT will be football, folks!

  • scottpuffin // April 25, 2009 at 11:46 am

    This article did the rounds about four years ago!!

  • Emilio Assis // April 25, 2009 at 8:18 pm

    I know that Zlatan will play in São Paulo FC – Brazil. I am sure it!


    He´s the best.

  • Anne // April 29, 2009 at 5:59 pm

    I totally agree with Caroline, inter is the most mediocre squad in the Serie A, even with the scudettos, they make Ibra the player that he is now specially at European competition, out shadow by Kaka, who in my perception is the best player in Serie A.

  • Flippish // December 18, 2009 at 6:59 pm

    Zlatan didnt chose Arsenal cuz Wenger didnt want him in his squad because of his dirty attitude.
    Wenger asked Zlatan:What are you afraid of?

    Zlatan:I’m only afraid from god(He has a tatto that says”Only God Can Judge me”)

    After that Wenger never contacted Zlatan.

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