For all that Zlatan Ibrahimovic has achieved over the course of a truly remarkable career, there is one glaring omission on his sporting CV that will irk the enigmatic Swede every time he casts a wistful eye back over his progress to this point.
A standing among the all-time greats is safely secured, but he lacks one particular medal that many of those standing alongside him in that legendary talent pool have in abundance. For a man who has been a trophy-winning machine like no other, the Champions League crown has always fallen agonizingly out of reach.
AC Milan will be back on the grandest of continental stages in 2022-23, with a long-awaited Serie A title tucked safely under their belts, and football betting will fancy them to reach at least the knockout rounds if early momentum can be established.
There may not be many picking the Rossoneri out as potential victors in the battle for a prestigious continental prize, but anything is possible if they keep themselves in the mix. Experience will be key in bids for more major silverware, and nobody at San Siro boasts more of that than Ibrahimovic.
Eternal Zlatan: all of his 2021/22 league goals,
from start to finish 🤩
— AC Milan
(@acmilan) June 9, 2022
A mercurial frontman is edging his way towards a day in which boots will have to be hung up, but an evergreen goal-getter remains determined to delay any retirement calls for as long as possible. Having spent as much time at the top as he has, why would you want to walk away?
When firing on all cylinders, with those mechanisms proving a little trickier to keep in working order of late, a modern-day icon has shown that he can still cut it against defenses that really should have worked out how to contain him by now.
No slowing down
Since returning to Milan, Ibrahimovic has recorded 36 goals through 74 appearances – which is not far off the “one every other game” mark that continues to separate the best from the rest when it comes to value in the final third of the field.
If he believes that he can carry himself through another grueling campaign, with there nothing to suggest that he cannot, then another 12-month contract extension is likely to be signed. At this stage, emotion as much as ambition is getting Ibrahimovic through.
His sole aim when heading back to familiar surroundings in Italy was to get Milan back on top of a domestic pile. That target has been hit, with a part now played in the last two title triumphs taken in by the Rossoneri – despite those successes being 11 years apart.
I said I did pic.twitter.com/elMymh4ELb
— Zlatan Ibrahimović
(@Ibra_official) May 23, 2022
He has taken in only five Champions League appearances since leaving Paris Saint-Germain in 2016 and still has a serious itch to scratch there. On two previous occasions, Ibrahimovic has left a club that went on to conquer Europe in the season immediately after he moved on.
Fate, it would appear, is not on his side when it comes to the hunt for elusive European honors, but he deserves a fitting farewell at that level and has made a habit down the years of making seemingly impossible dreams come true.