Barton or Ibrahimovic: Who Is Ligue 1's Biggest Villain?
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There are villains in every league. Those players who are targeted by opposing teams' fans with outrageous chants and heavy doses of boos.
Ligue 1 has its share of these players who have gained the villain status by their actions on and off the pitch. In the competition of the player the fans love to hate the most, Ligue 1 has two prime contenders.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic came to Paris with a reputation as an amazingly skilled player with some well-publicized episodes of attitude.
Perhaps the first item making Ibrahimovic a villain in the eyes of many is his price tag. Fans tend to instantly form a lower opinion of an opposing player when they are among the highest-paid in the game.
Beyond the money, Ibrahimovic has had multiple incidents over the years that help build his case as Ligue 1's top villain.
His recent dance step on the head of Lyon defender Dejan Lovren has drawn the ire of some despite replays being inconclusive on whether it was intentional.
Early in his career, Ibrahimovic was accused by then Ajax teammate Rafael van der Vaart of intentionally hurting him during an international match. Shortly after the incident, Ibra was sold to Juventus.
Ibra has had reported run-ins with coaches an players throughout his career, but his biggest card may be his ego. The nonstop stream of Zlatanisms and his use of the third person to talk about himself add fuel to the fire of those who love to hate him.
Joey Barton has not had the brilliant career that Ibrahimovic has, but his transgressions have garnered the public eye just as much. The English bad boy has found himself settling in Marseille this season, but no matter where Barton goes, his past follows him.
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His violent side has carried over onto the pitch, as he has been charged three times by the FA for violent conduct. The most recent for actions against his former team Manchester City on the last day of the 2011-2012 season. The resulting suspension carried over to Ligue 1, as Barton joined Marseille on loan.
Outside of the episodes of violence, Barton is a prominent user of Twitter. This opens himself up for plenty of criticism depending on how his tweets come across. His recent attempt at using a French accent was one for the books and without a doubt gave more ammo to his detractors.
While there are other villains in Ligue 1, these two are the prime contenders for top dog. Both play for top clubs and have the history to boot. This makes them big targets for opposing fans.
Either fits the bill, but for my money, Zlatan currently takes the top spot based on his persona and the Lovren incident. Barton has yet to have a meltdown while in France. Chances are one is coming, and when it does, he could take the top spot away from Zlatan.
Barton or Ibrahimovic as Ligue 1's top villain? Take your pick.
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