Saturday 22 July 2017

Gunners on alert over Ibrahimovic's London calling

'Ibrahimovic (p) was certainly suggestive about his future when he spoke with English journalists after the Champions League tie against Chelsea and is waiting now to see how things unfold with PSG' Photo: PA
'Ibrahimovic (p) was certainly suggestive about his future when he spoke with English journalists after the Champions League tie against Chelsea and is waiting now to see how things unfold with PSG' Photo: PA

Jeremy Wilson

Arsenal have been made aware of Zlatan Ibrahimovic's preference to play in London should he move to the Premier League next season.

Intermediaries of the Paris Saint-Germain forward are understood to have communicated his desire to play in the English capital although there would be doubts over whether his wage demands could be met.

Ibrahimovic's extraordinary career has included 13 league titles in 15 seasons, spread across six clubs in four countries, although never England.

The Swede was invited to Arsenal for a trial as a 21-year-old in 2001 but, despite having never played outside his native country, famously told Arsene Wenger: "I don't do trials. You know who I am."

He is now 34 and out of contract this summer but keen to remain in one of the major European leagues for at least another season before potentially moving to the United States to play Major League Soccer.

PSG have yet to offer him a new deal but, should they fail this summer to sign either Cristiano Ronaldo or Eden Hazard, they could yet attempt to keep their talisman.

Ibrahimovic has become the global face of PSG and, with Ronaldo, Lionel Messi and Neymar, is among the four most marketable players in the world.

His salary is around £250,000 a week, which is £110,000 more than Arsenal's highest paid player, Mesut Ozil, but he could be prepared to compromise on his demands for the chance to play in the Premier League. There would also be no transfer fee.

Ibrahimovic was certainly suggestive about his future when he spoke with English journalists after the Champions League tie against Chelsea and is waiting now to see how things unfold with PSG.

Asked whether he would favour a first taste of life in the Premier League, he added: "Let's just say I am in good shape."

Wenger has previously shown little interest in transfers that have no long-term value but, amid unprecedented unrest among fans, a major summer signing would certainly alter the dynamic.

The Arsenal manager may have seen his team knocked out of the Champions League at the hands of Barcelona but he believes they showed that they can still fight for domestic success this season.

Wenger's players arrived in Barcelona in bad form, having slipped from top of the Premier League to 11 points adrift of current leaders Leicester and missing the chance to seal three successive FA Cup triumps following last Sunday's quarter-final elimination at the hands of Watford.

However, they performed admirably, albeit against a Barcelona side which often seemed to be going through the motions, and only some wasteful possession in the final third prevented them making this a contest as they fell at the round of 16 stage for the sixth straight season.

Wenger saw enough to convince him Arsenal can overhaul both Tottenham and Leicester to win the league title for the first time in 12 years.

"I'm pleased with the performance. The quality of our game was good. I'm disappointed with the result but we played a team with the best three strikers I've seen. The Premier League is more open than people think," he said.

Wenger reserved special praise for Barcelona's trio of world-class forwards, with Neymar opening the scoring and Lionel Messi adding a late third after Luis Suarez had rifled home a memorable, acrobatic volley to kill off Arsenal's lingering hopes.

"Barcelona are an exceptional side going forward in the final third with the quality of passing and creativity," he said.

"Messi was absolutely exceptional. He went for 90 minutes and came out of the game without missing a first touch, no matter where the ball came from. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Telegraph.co.uk

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