One of the best strikers over the past decade, Zlatan Ibrahimović has proven popular and successful at every club he has played for.
His clubs have finished top of the league in 10 of the 13 seasons he has played since leaving Malmö FF as a 19-year old to sign for Co Adriaanse’s Ajax back in 2001. With Paris Saint-Germain having a 13-point lead over AS Monaco with 7 games to play in France’s Ligue 1 this season, championship ring number 11 could be heading his way soon.
It may be worth mentioning that Juventus’ Serie A titles of 2004-05 and 2005-06 were later strip, but I carefully worded the previous statement by saying Ibrahimović’s teams finished top of the league.
The positional sense of the striker, his unpredictable nature and his technical ability have made him one of the most feared strikers in world football in recent seasons.
His career transfer fees are as follows:
2001 – Ajax: €8.7 million (unknown 19-year old signing from a Swedish Allsvenskan side)
2004 – Juventus: €16 million
2006 – Internazionale: €24.8 million
2009 – Barcelona: €69.5 million (only Cristian Ronaldo more expensive at the time)
2010 – AC Milan: €24 million
2012 – Paris Saint-Germain: €20 million
The combined €163 million (£134.7 million) transfer fees make Zlatan the most expensive football in the world.
Zlatan Ibrahimović’s Goalscoring Record
Zlatan Ibrahimović has been a prolific goalscorer at every club he’s played for since his first season at Ajax.
Even at international level he has 48 goals in 97 appearances for Sweden.
Many have questioned Ibrahimović when it comes to big games which still remains debatable. Here is his record versus top 4 finishing teams in each of his seasons beginning with Ajax:
The table shows he has scored 30 goals in 60 games against the top teams in the league that season. Admittedly, his record is boosted by playing three seasons in the Dutch Eredivisie and two in the French Ligue 1 with the best teams. His goalscoring records against the top teams whilst at Juventus and Internazionale weren’t particularly impressive.
Moving onto Europe’s elite club competition, the UEFA Champions League, Zlatan Ibrahimović has become a star over the past seven seasons. His most prolific being this season where he will end the campaign with more goals than games played should Paris Saint-Germain not progress past the quarter-finals:
Only 10 players have scored more goals in the history of the European Cup/Champions League than the 41 Ibrahimović has netted in his 102 appearances.
Despite playing with all the top clubs and league champions that he has, Ibrahimović has never lifted the Champions League trophy.
Zlatan Ibrahimović vs English Teams
For all of his goals in domestic leagues, the Champions League and at international level, there’s still one question mark on his record card.
Zlatan Ibrahimović does not boast the best record when it comes to playing Champions League football against English opposition.
In fact, his record is as follows:
Arsenal are the only English side the big Swede has managed to net against. After failing to score in his first four matches against the Gunners (two for Ajax, two for Juventus), Ibrahimović netted twice during Barcelona’s 2-2 draw at the Emirates on 31 March 2010. This actually ended a streak of 12 games versus English opposition without scoring. Pep Guardiola did not select him for the second.
The striker then scored 1 of AC Milan’s 4 in the Italian sides 4-3 aggregate win over the Gunners during the 2011-12 season, meaning he has been shut out in 5 of his 7 matches versus Arsène Wenger’s side.
Prior to breaking his duck for Barcelona against Arsenal, Ibrahimović had failed to score in his first 10 matches versus English opposition.
Liverpool are the only side Zlatan Ibrahimović has played four games against in any competition and drawn blanks every time. He faced the English side in the 2004-05 Champions League with Juventus, losing 2-1 on aggregate. He then met the Reds as an Inter player in the 2007-08 campaign, losing 3-0 on aggregate. He played all but 11 minutes of these four matches.
Zlatan Ibrahimović was on the losing side as an Internazionale player in the 2008-09 Champions League round of 16 tie with Manchester United. The English side won 2-0 on aggregate with the Swedish striker playing the full 180 minutes.
As an AC Milan player in the 2010-11 competition, he saw his side lose 1-0 on aggregate in the round of 16 to Tottenham Hotspur. It seems that English sides have a way of stopping both Ibrahimović and his teams. Or at least they did in the first four ties.
Zlatan Ibrahimović’s teams records versus English sides in the knockout rounds of the Champions League is 2-5. Wins with AC Milan and Barcelona in his last two match-ups, defeats as an AC Milan, Internazionale (x2) and Juventus (x2) player in his first five. Whislt his two matches versus Arsenal whilst at Ajax came in the second group stage.
In all, Ibra has experienced just 1 win in those 15 matches, losing 7.
2002-03 second group stage
Arsenal 1-1 Ajax: played 78 minutes, 0 goals
Ajax 0-0 Arsenal: played 83 minutes, 0 goals
Liverpool 2-1 Juventus: played 90 minutes, 0 goals
Juventus 0-0 Liverpool: played 90 minutes, 0 goals
Arsenal 2-0 Juventus: played 90 minutes, 0 goals
Juventus 0-0 Arsenal: played 90 minutes, 0 goals
2007-08 round of 16
Liverpool 2-0 Internazionale: played 90 minutes, 0 goals
Internazionale 0-1 Liverpool: played 79 minutes, 0 goals
2008-09 round of 16
Internazionale 0-0 Manchester United: played 90 minutes, 0 goals
Manchester United 2-0 Internazionale: played 90 minutes, 0 goals
Arsenal 2-2 Barcelona: played 76 minutes, scored 2 goals
Barcelona 4-1 Arsenal: did not play
2010-11 round of 16
AC Milan 0-1 Tottenham Hotspur: played 90 minutes, 0 goals
Tottenham Hotspur 0-0 AC Milan: played 90 minutes, 0 goals
2011-12 round of 16
AC Milan 4-0 Arsenal: played 90 minutes, scored 1 goal
Arsenal 3-0 AC Milan: played 90 minutes, 0 goals
Zlatan Ibrahimović Goalscoring Records vs Top Teams
A ‘top team’ in the next table is a judgement call by me. Some will perhaps ignore Roma and Fiorentina for they were not competing for the title at the time Zlatan Ibrahimović was scoring against them.
Excluding the English opponents from the table as they were in the previous section, here is Zlatan Ibrahimović’s record in all competitions against a handful of selected teams:
1 goal in 9 games vs Juventus, 1 in 6 vs Bayern Munich, 1 in 5 vs Real Madrid and 2 in 5 vs Barcelona will perhaps be where a lot of people judge him.
Still, he did score 4 goals in a single game versus the England national team not so long ago. Oh wait, we were talking about top teams…
In person + book
I had the pleasure of going to see Zlatan Ibrahimović play in person at the end of January this year when I saw Paris Saint-Germain beat Bordeaux 2-0 at the Parc des Princes on transfer deadline day. The Swedish striker was entertaining to watch with his movement and skills. In true Ibra style, he opened the scoring with a cheeky flick.
Former Chelsea defender Alex saw the second before Yohan Cabaye came on to make his debut.
I’ll finish by saying I have, of course read his autobiography. A very enjoyable and enlightening read. I’d certainly recommend it.
It’s somewhat of a shame it didn’t work out for him at Barcelona, and reasons behind that are mentioned in his book, albeit from his side of the story. One of my favourite players to ever play the game and I rate him as one of the best to do so too. For all his championship trophies it will still be disappointing if he ends his career without a Champions League winners’ medal.
And of course, to quote the man himself, “the  World Cup is nothing without me.”