clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Where Does Zlatan Ibrahimovic Fit Into Milan's Plans?

New, comment

The superstar striker looks set for a move back to the San Siro, but where does he fit after Milan's summer of spending?

Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored 56 goals in his first stint at Milan.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored 56 goals in his first stint at Milan.
Claudio Villa/Getty Images

The agonizing rumor about Zlatan Ibrahimovic's future looks like it could become a joyful reality for Milan fans soon.

Ibrahimovic looks set to leave Paris Saint-Germain after the French Super Cup Aug. 1 in Montreal. He is believed to have already agreed to a three-year deal with Milan.

This would be a huge move for Milan. Even at 33 (34 in October), Ibrahimovic is one of the best forwards in the world. His size and pace make him a mismatch for most defenders. Age has done nothing to slow his scoring rate. After 56 goals in 85 matches with Milan, he has scored 106 in 126 matches with PSG.

The issue with Ibrahimovic's return would be his position on the field. Milan has spent a lot of money this summer by recent standards, 65 million euros. The club has spent 41.5 million of that money on strikers Carlos Bacca (32.5 million) and Luiz Adriano (9 million). Both players are going to have immediate impacts.

At least at the start, Siniša Mihajlović should have Bacca and Adriano playing together up top. This would move Ibrahimovic into a deeper role, like the scenario below.

Milan XI

There is no reason Ibrahimovic cannot be successful from this deeper role. He often played deeper than Edison Cavani at PSG. Ibrahimovic does not need to be the towering target man he often looked to be under Massimiliano Allegri. Allowing him to hold the ball up near the edge of the box and create for himself could make him a lethal weapon playing behind two great strikers.

Look at where Ibrahimovic is positioned in the below video. There is a healthy combination of hold-up play and nestling himself in front of the net for the final pass. His touches in all positions are flawless, and he has an eye for the open play, be it the shot or the pass. If he can develop chemistry with Bacca and Adriano, it will not matter where he is on the field. All three will score goals.

An abundance of goal scorers is a good problem, and one Milan have not had in years. Finding a way to utilize three who all need to be starters is something Mihajlović should welcome.

This lineup also shows Alessio Romagnoli, the 20-year-old Roma center back who played 30 matches for Sampdoria in Serie A last season. The price may be steep, but Milan needs to pull the trigger on this move. For all the good changes being made at Milan—a new manager, a new ownership partner, Bacca, Adriano, Bertolacci—the club has made no changes on defense.

Milan's fall from defensive grace has been rapid. Since holding Serie A opponents to 24 goals in its 2010-11 championship season, Milan has conceded 35, 39, 49 and 50 goals.

Then again, if Ibrahimovic can come in and team up with Bacca and Adriano to become one of the most feared strike forces in Italy, it may not matter how many goals the Rossoneri concede.