Zlatan Ibrahimovic. We've all heard of him; he's one of the most recognized names in sports across the world, outside the likes of Messi, Ronaldo, and Neymar. Anytime I'm on Twitter, the interwebs, or talking to other Atlanta United fans in general, Ibrahimovic gets brought up quite often. Most fans want the club to sign him, but I'm not entirely convinced. I am going to lay out both the pros and cons of signing him, however. Feel free to yell, scream, call me bad names, and tell me what you think in the comments below.
Ibrahimovic is a player that needs no introduction, but if you've somehow missed the player who calls himself God tearing up the European leagues, here you go.
Over the course of 15 seasons, Ibrahimovic has won 12 league titles with six different teams including Ajax, Juventus (though both were taken away due to a match fixing scandal), Inter, Barcelona, AC Milan, and PSG. Three of those league titles have been during the last three seasons with PSG where he will likely win his fourth straight this season.
Individually, Ibrahimovic has won the 2013 Puskas Award (Goal of the Year), been included the 2013 FIFPro World XI, and UEFA Team of the Year in 2007, 2009, 2013, and 2014. He was the top scorer in Serie A in 2009/10 and 2012/13 as well as the top scorer in 2012/13 and 2013/14. He has 372 goals in 661 appearances and even has recorded his own version of the Swedish national anthem!
Though 16 minutes long, here is a video with just some of Ibrahimovic's supernatural ability:
Ibrahimovic can score goals, lots of them too. He's done it for seven teams across five leagues including almost 50 in European competition, it seems like no one has figured out how to stop him yet. He can play most any role in advanced positions and can create goals for his teammates as easily as he can score them himself. (He had the most assists in the 2012/13 Champions League season) Ibrahimovic is 6'5" tall, built like a tank, can bully most any center back, yet still possesses adequate pace at his age. He's featured in teams with some of the best ever players including the likes of Lionel Messi, Andrés Iniesta, Thierry Henry, Javier Zanetti, Luis Figo, Clarence Seedorf, and Alessandro Del Piero. Some of them didn't even make it into his own best XI that he's played alongside.
Ibrahimovic certainly has the experience, talent, and attitude to succeed in MLS where even he himself has said he would like to play just last summer. He's scored 30 goals in just 35 appearances this season. It doesn't look like he will be slowing down anytime soon.
Off the field, Ibrahimovic is just as valuable. His name alone will sell tickets, jersey's, and his talent will keep seats filled. He could also bring the attention of fans and media from across the world.
Ibrahimovic is currently 34 years old. Sure, he isn't showing his age right now, but he will be 35 by the time Atlanta United even play a game, and will turn 36 before the club's first season is over. He has to slow down eventually, and it will likely be sooner rather than later. Ibrahimovic will probably score a few goals in his first season if Atlanta United actually did sign him and it would be loads of fun but how long will he last? Realistically, I don't think he would stay more than two seasons in MLS before retiring.
We've all seen his interviews, Ibrahimovic is one of the celebrities of soccer. He isn't a person like Messi, who generally avoids the media. He relishes it. Ibrahimovic would probably still be famous even if he wasn't blessed with so much soccer talent. This could become a distraction. He might spend more time doing interviews and spending time in clubs than focusing on staying fit.
After Ibrahimovic leaves PSG, he will have nothing to prove. The only major trophy he missed out on was the UEFA Champions League unless PSG win it this season. He may still put in the effort in MLS like Kaka or David Villa does but the external motivation might not be there. I fear he may be the next Andrea Pirlo or Steven Gerrard, who haven't had the most beneficial impacts for their teams.
I like Ibrahimovic, I really do and it would probably be a blast if Atlanta United signed him but I just don't want to be the team with all the old guys who can't run anymore. Uncle Arthur has said no expense will be spared and that he will build a winning team from the start but there are better ways to do that in my opinion.