"Ibra - Open To Milan" was Gazzetta dello Sport's headline this morning, following news that Sky Italia broke the previous night that Milan's CEO, Adriano Galliani, and PSG forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic spoke on the phone, a conversation during which the former Inter and Barcelona man gave his "yes" to a second stint in red-and-black.
The 33-year-old left Italy in 2012 as part of a cost-cutting exercise by Silvio Berlusconi, a delayed reaction to a near €600m fine received by Fininvest, the Italian club's holding company - one that controls all forseeable finance for the seven-time European champions. He and Thiago Silva departed for PSG, instantly legitimizing the then-new billionaires' ambitious project to ascend to the peak of European football. How very appropriate, then, that a potential return for Ibrahimovic could validate an exciting new project for the Rossoneri.
The purchase of 48 percent's worth of Milan by Thai businessman Bee Taechaubol has seemingly sprung the club into action, and just a week after being turned down by former Coach Carlo Ancelotti, the Rossoneri appear to be nearing another return that could add some much-needed star quality to Milan, and to the Serie A as a whole.
Since the notorious 2012 mass exodus, Milan have gone through a painful period of austerity that began with the exits of Gianluca Zambrotta, Filippo Inzaghi, Gennaro Gattuso, Alessandro Nesta and Clarence Seedorf, and continued with the pursuit of free agents, cast-offs with expensive wages in a desperate attempt not to dip into the increasingly dry club coffers.
The team that won the 2010/11 title was slowly picked apart and separated and either replaced inadequately or not replaced at all. 1st in 2011 was followed by 2nd in 2012, 3rd in 2013, 7th in 2014 and 10th in 2015. "Insert Coin and save AC Milan" was the message draped over the empty Curva in a game against Cagliari in March.
Now, it appears someone has. Bee Taechaubol's arrival, the potential of investment opportunity, and connection with agency company Doyen Sports appears to have given Milan enough firepower to make waves in the transfer market for the first time since 2010. In the last two days alone, Adriano Galliani has been in Portugal negotiating for star striker Jackson Martinez and midfielder Brahimi, Monaco for Geoffrey Kondogbia, and now, Paris for Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
Given the Swede's contract situation and age, it is believed a bid of €15m and a contract of €7m a year for three years is set to be tabled to bring Ibra back to Italy. Zlatan, a well-publicized hater of Parisian life (not to mention their ruthless tax laws), seems keen to come back to a club he never truly wanted to leave.
The return of Ibrahimovic would not only give Milan a star to base their team around, but a selling point in which to attract future players as well as a statement of intent to the rest of Serie A, and perhaps Europe as well. If Ibra is open to a Milan return, as Gazzetta wrote, then the door for a return to the Milan fans miss and fondly remember will be too.