x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Ibrahimovic believes City and PSG will fulfil their big ambitions

Competition will only help develop the game, says the striker, even if it means sharing duties with Tevez at AC Milan.

More the merrier, says Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
More the merrier, says Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

DUBAI // When AC Milan line up to face Arsenal in the Champions League knockout stages next month, the Qatari owners of Paris Saint-Germain will be forced to enviously look on from afar, yet Zlatan Ibrahimovic says it is inevitable football's nouveau riche clubs such as PSG and Manchester City will achieve the continental success their Arab owners' crave.

The big-spending Paris club, acquired by Qatar Sports Investment last year, crashed out of the Europa League three weeks ago after managing only one point away from home in the competition.

Sheikh Mansour, the Manchester City owner, has invested more than £1 billion (Dh6bn) on transfer fees, wages and improving the club's infrastructure, yet the team failed to progress from their Champions League group this season following defeats to Napoli and Bayern Munich.

However, as PSG prepare to meet Milan, the Italian league leaders, in Dubai on Wednesday for an exhibition match, the Rossoneri forward Ibrahimovic said the money arriving in the game can only be good for the future of the sport.

"It's good for football that there are other teams, not only the favourites; the teams who have made big history for a long time," Ibrahimovic said yesterday following an afternoon training session at Al Ahli's Rashid Stadium.

"It's good that City and Paris have owners who have come in with, not power, but big money and they get big players and make the competition more difficult for the bigger teams. Like this, football will develop even more and become even better, so I think it's good."

When asked if he believed the likes of PSG and City would in time realise their ambitious goals, Ibrahimovic replied: "Yes."

The Paris club announced on Friday the appointment of Carlo Ancelotti, the former Rosonneri coach, and the Italian has been strongly linked with moves for previous Milan midfielders, David Beckham and Kaka, as well as current striker Alexandre Pato.

Ibrahimovic said he could understand why PSG would be interested in taking Beckham, the 36-year-old former England captain who has spent the majority of the past two seasons playing in America's unheralded Major League Soccer, to the French capital.

"It depends what he wants, but it seems like Beckham is still hungry to win and play football, so if he comes back to Europe to play, it's good for Paris Saint Germain because a big name comes to the club," the Swede said.

"These people, who buy the club, make big investments and bring in big players and a good coach in Ancelotti, so it's good because it makes Paris - who I'm not saying are a small team, they are a big club - but it makes the competition more difficult for the bigger teams. I always see the positive."

PSG were recently linked with City's unsettled striker Carlos Tevez, but after Leonardo, the director of football for the French league leaders, ruled out a move, it appears the Argentine forward is set to link up with Ibrahimovic at the San Siro.

Milan already have a wealth of attacking talent in the form of Pato, Filippo Inzaghi, Robinho and Antonio Cassano, but 30-year-old Ibrahimovic is of the belief competition is healthy, and said he would welcome Tevez with open arms.

"Tevez is great player, but I don't know whether he's coming or not," he said.

"If he comes, for sure, he will do a great job and will be an extra weapon for us. Everybody knows what kind of player Tevez is; he is fantastic and would bring extra quality.

"Yes, we already have many strikers, but it is up to the coach who will play if Tevez comes.

"If he comes, I am very happy. It brings competition for the strikers; makes the situation more competitive; you have to train more and harder and it makes you motivated to do well on the field."

Arsenal will be hoping to reap the rewards of a similar strategy after securing their former forward Thierry Henry on a two-month loan deal from New York Red Bulls to strengthen their attacking options. Ibrahimovic played alongside the record goalscorer while he was at Barcelona, and the two will likely meet when Milan play the London club on February 15 in Milan.

"I'm happy for him," Ibrahimovic said.

"It is the team that is in his heart because even when we played together at Barcelona he always spoke about them.

"And I am also happy for Arsenal, because he is a great player, has made history and it is a bonus for them."

 

gmeenaghan@thenational.ae

 

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