Zlatan Ibrahimovic Told He Might Not Get in Celtic Team by Neil Lennon

Ravin SampatCorrespondent IIDecember 30, 2013

Ibrahimovic hints at Celtic move
Ibrahimovic hints at Celtic moveHarry Engels/Getty Images

Sweden international Zlatan Ibrahimovic recently expressed an interest in one day playing for Celtic, following in the footsteps of his fellow countryman Henrik Larsson, but manager Neil Lennon has responded by handing the striker a tongue-in-cheek warning.

The Paris St-Germain striker, now 32, hinted he'd like to finish his playing career at Parkhead because of the admiration he has for their fans.

According to John Shields of the Scottish Sun (subscription required), Ibrahimovic said: 

Celtic is a club with a big tradition and a place any top player would want to end their career. How could I say I wouldn't want to play for those fans every week?

Ibrahimovic has already had an illustrious career with former clubs including Ajax, Juventus, Inter Milan, Barcelona and AC Milan. The striker has scored 21 goals in 22 appearances for French champions PSG this season where he is under contract until 2016.

But despite his world-class offering, Celtic manager Lennon joked that Zlatan wouldn't be able to stroll into the team: 

He'd have to play well to get in our team. It's a nice compliment for the club and just shows the reputation we have built up over the years. It's one of those stories - I don't know how true it is - but it would be wonderful if we could get that type of player to the club.

Over the past few seasons, Ibrahimovic has been linked with a host of Premier League clubs including Manchester City and Chelsea this summer, and Manchester United last season.

Arsenal fans will also remember how close Arsene Wenger was to signing him over 10 years ago, a move that didn't go through, after which Ibrahimovic allegedly told Wenger that "he doesn't do trials" after being invited to Highbury in 2000, even being offered the No. 9 shirt.

However Celtic fans' dreams of any impending move for Zlatan may be dashed after the striker hinted last month about a potential move to the United States, reported by Daily Star's Jack Wilson:

A future in the United States? I don't like to make too many plans, but one day, when my contract expires, I would like to play outside Europe, even if I don't know where.

Should Celtic even entertain the thought of signing the big Swede, they'd have to pay him a handsome salary to match his current one. According to L’Equipe and via Ian Holyman of ESPN FC, Ibrahimovic's salary was recently upped from €13.8 million to an annual €15 million.