Swedish firebrand Zlatan Ibrahimovic – never one to be shy of the spotlight in courting controversy – believes he should be considered the equal of Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi in the perpetual debate over the world’s greatest player.
The 39-year-old Swedish striker, still flexing his biceps at AC Milan, has enjoyed the longevity of a hugely successful career at nine clubs in seven countries, scoring 502 goals, and still counting.
However, despite not having laid hands on the Champions League and the Ballon d’Or – honors won multiple times by both Ronaldo and Messi – Ibrahimovic says he shouldn’t in any way be regarded as inferior to them.
‘If you’re talking about intrinsic qualities, I have nothing less than them,’ he told France Football magazine.
‘If you look at the trophies… yes, I didn’t win the Champions League.
‘But I don’t know how you calculate it. I’m not obsessed with it because when you do good things collectively, the individual follows. The individual cannot be good if the collective is not good.
‘[Do] I miss the Ballon d’Or? No, it is the Ballon d’Or that misses me! Deep down, I think I’m the best player in the world.
‘I don’t think it’s relevant to compare players with each other. Everyone has played in their generation, with different team-mates… [it is] difficult to compare. I think everyone has their story and should face it.’
Despite having played for the likes of Juventus, Inter Milan, AC Milan, Barcelona, Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester United, Champions League glory has always eluded Ibrahimovic.
AC Milan will be playing in Europe’s top competition this season for the first time since 2013-14, and this could be Ibrahimovic’s last few chances to win it as he approaches 40 and is fast running out of opportunities.
They have been paired with Atletico Madrid, Liverpool and Porto in a tricky group.
Credit: Football Tribe Malaysia