Zlatan Ibrahimovic

Zlatan Ibrahimovic scores for AC Milan
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WATCH: Zlatan scores in first season start for AC Milan

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Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored in his first start since returning to Serie A as AC Milan won 2-0 at Cagliai on Saturday.

The big Swede came off the bench at midweek, but started in place of Krzyzstof Piatek at Sardegna Arena.

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Ibrahimovic slotted a Theo Hernandez pass inside the far post to join Rafael Leao on the score sheet in the win.

It was the 38-year-old’s first Serie A goal since a May 6, 2012 brace in the Derby della Madonnina with Inter Milan. He’s scored 123 times in Italy’s top flight and 57 times overall in a Milan shirt.

He posted two shots, hit the post, and was credited with two interceptions. Ibrahimovic was involved in 22 duels, winning only nine.

Milan meets SPAL in the Italian Cup on Wednesday before a visit from Udinese on Jan. 18.

Zlatan welcomes ‘top-level challenge’ at AC Milan

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MILAN — Zlatan Ibrahimovic is giving himself six months to see if he can still play elite-level soccer with one of Europe’s storied clubs.

The 38-year-old striker was presented by AC Milan on Friday after signing a deal until the end of the season with an option to extend for another year.

“These six months will be key to see if I’m in form and can provide results. Otherwise, I’m not going to stay just to be here. That doesn’t interest me,” Ibrahimovic said. “The challenge of being at the top level provides me with a lot of adrenaline.

“I haven’t seen many 38-year-old footballers return to a club like this. But if they’ve signed me, it means they believe in me. It’s a test for me to see if I’m doing the right thing. … I received more requests at 38 than I did at 28.”

Ibrahimovic said his children helped him select the No. 21 shirt. He could make his debut against Sampdoria at the San Siro on Monday.

Returning to the club he left nearly eight years ago, Ibrahimovic is being counted on to make an immediate impact on a team in 11th place and still reeling from a 5-0 loss to Atalanta — Milan’s biggest Serie A defeat in more than two decades.

“Milan is still Milan. History can’t be changed,” Ibrahimovic said of the seven-time European champions. “I’m coming to help the club. We can do much more but let’s go one match at a time. It’s a marathon, not a 100-meter sprint.”

Added Zvonimir Boban, Milan’s chief football officer: “I wouldn’t want to forget about the (Atalanta) match, which was an unacceptable defeat. We shouldn’t hide behind Zlatan’s broad shoulders. We need to change the direction of this season and we hope that his presence will help us.”

Ibrahimovic helped Milan to its last Serie A title in 2011. He has since played for Paris Saint-Germain, Manchester United and the LA Galaxy.

“Milan is like my home,” he said. “It brings me back to the joy of playing football.”

Serie A: Juve buys $40M Kulusevski, Milan introduces Zlatan

Two Swedish stars find new Serie A clubs
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Two of Italy’s most celebrated sides unveiled significant Swedish additions on Thursday, one signing half the age of the other.

Juventus purchased 19-year-old Dejan Kulusevski from Atalanta for $40 million on Thursday, while AC Milan introduced Zlatan Ibrahimovic after the legendary Swede passed his medical.

Kulusevski has one cap for Sweden. Ibrahimovic? 116 caps and a national record 62 goals.

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Juve will allow their teen Swede to continue his loan at Parma, where he’s scored four times with seven assists in 17 Serie A appearances this season. He’s committed to The Old Lady through 2023/24.

The winger has represented Sweden at nearly every level, rising from the U15 level all the way to his first senior team cap in November.

Only Lazio’s Luis Alberto has more league assists than Kulusevski, who is rated 18th in Serie A by WhoScored and 50th by SofaScore. The latter site says his 35 successful dribbles are tired for fifth in the league.

As for Zlatan, he’s passed his medical to rejoin AC Milan after leaving the club in 2012 to join Paris Saint-Germain.

The move, announced late last month, gives Milan much-needed center forward reinforcements. Star striker Krzysztof Piatek has just four goals in 17 league matches this season.

Ibrahimovic will wear No. 21 when he makes his Milan debut. The side restarts Serie A play on Monday morning at Sampdoria.

Report: AC Milan seals Zlatan Ibrahimovic return

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Carlo Ancelotti and Everton look set to miss out on Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

The big Swede is moving back to Milan, according to a Sky Sports report.

Many (including us) were titillated by the idea of an Ancelotti-Zlatan reunion, but AC Milan looked like the No.1 option if it was able to get the finances in order.

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In fact, reports of a Milan return have been growing since November.

Zlatan returns to Europe two years removed from scoring 28 goals and 10 assists in 46 matches for Manchester United.

He then tortured MLS to the tune of 53 goals and 15 assists in 58 matches with the LA Galaxy.

But while the attacks of MLS are improving, there’s a chasm between Major League Soccer defenses and Serie A.

The club’s center forwards have struggled mightily this year, and Krzysztof Piatek has not picked up where he left off scoring 30 times between Genoa and Milan last season.

The 38-year-old Ibrahimovic has not played in Serie A since leaving Milan in 2012. His Serie A career includes 122 goals and 46 assists in 219 matches between AC Milan, Inter Milan, and Juventus.

Serie A roundup: Atalanta hand Milan worst league loss in 21 years (video)

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AC Milan’s worst league loss in 21 years highlights Sunday’s Serie A action.

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Atalanta 5-0 AC Milan

With a brace from Josip Ilicic and goals from Alejandro Gomez, Mario Pasalic and Luis Muriel, Atalanta ran all over AC Milan in Bergamo on Sunday.

It was the fourth time in the club’s 120-year history that the Rossoneri suffered a loss by more than five goal, with the last one occurring in May of 1998. Milan’s Chief Football Officer, Zvonimir Boban, labeled the seven-time European’s performance “embarrassing”.

Milan – lead by Stafano Piolo, who signed a two-year deal in October – are sitting eleventh on the table, only seven points clear of the drop zone. During the match, Atalanta fans taunted Milan fans with ‘Serie B, Serie B’ chants, predicting a possible relegation for one of Italy’s most important clubs.

Throughout the night, Milan registered a lone shot on target, 10 short of the amount that the home side registered.

“We have to work and improve. We entered the pitch with too little technical and tactical clarity. It’s a terribly insufficient performance,” acknowledged Milan coach Pioli.

That’s not the only hot topic Pioli touched on, however.

Conveniently enough, reporters pressed the 54-year-old about Zlatan Ibrahimovic‘s possible arrival and whether or not the former Milan striker can ameliorate their situation.

“These are questions for the club owners,” he told DAZN when asked about Ibrahimovic, who is a free agent and has been rumored to make a return to Italy.

“People have talked about Ibrahimovic for over a month now. I’ve already said he is a champion and would bring that determination and character to raise the intensity and focus even during training, more so than in games.”

With their next match not until January 6, the Rossoneri will have plenty of time to reflect on one of the darkest nights in club history. And maybe sign themselves an Ibrahimovic, too.

Elsewhere

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