The Milan attacker, who is now into his fourth decade near the summit of the professional game, feels that he is no less a skilled star than the duo
Zlatan Ibrahimovic says that he does not consider himself a lesser player than Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, with the forward stating that he believes himself to be “the best in the world”.
The AC Milan attacker is widely considered one of the most prolific players of his generation following a journeyman career across seven countries and 22 years.
The Sweden star has struggled to complete the clean sweep of honours enjoyed by regular Ballon d’Or victors Messi and Ronaldo however – but while playing down suggestions he is among the game’s all-time greats, the 39-year-old says he is not in either player’s shadow.
What has been said?
“If you’re talking about intrinsic qualities, I have nothing less than them,” Ibrahimovic told France Football when asked about Ronaldo and Messi. “If you look at the trophies, [then] 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’s Ballon d’Or who misses me! Deep down, I think I’m the best in the world. I don’t think it’s relevant to compare players with each other.
“Everyone has played in their generation, with different teammates … [it’s] difficult to compare. I think everyone has their story and should face it.”
Ibrahimovic misses out on highest honours
Across a lengthy tenure that has seen him win trophies with Milan, Inter, Juventus, Barcelona, Manchester United and Paris Saint-Germain, to name a few, the striker has emerged as one of the game’s most idiosyncratic personalities.
Yet his failure to capture the Ballon d’Or remains one of the few holes on his record, albeit with the caveat that he has played his peak years alongside perennial winners Messi and Ronaldo.
Ibrahimovic missed Euro 2020 with an injury he suffered late in the 2020-21 season with Milan, after he had come out of retirement for the national side.
The bigger picture
Ibrahimovic will still have the chance to find further silverware this term however, even as he turns 40 this year – and he will have the advantage of not starting at a new club too.
Unlike Messi and Ronaldo, who have swapped two of the Swede’s former clubs in Barca and Juve for two more in PSG and United, he remains rooted to San Siro in Milan.
Stefano Pioli’s side sit fourth after two games and will be out to dethrone another of Ibrahimovic’s former clubs in Inter for the Serie A title this term.