Why Zlatan Ibrahimovic Should Be PSG's Top Priority in Contract Talks

Andrew GibneyFeatured ColumnistFebruary 5, 2016

Paris Saint Germain's Zlatan Ibrahimovic celebrates after he scored a goal against Saint-Etienne during their French League One soccer match in Saint-Etienne, central France, Sunday, Jan. 31, 2016. (AP Photo/Laurent Cipriani)
Laurent Cipriani/Associated Press

At the end of the season, a handful of Paris Saint-Germain players will be out of contract. However, there is only one man the club's Qatari owners should be concentrating on re-signing this summer. The recent form of Zlatan Ibrahimovic means it would be a disaster if he were allowed to leave on a free—all their effort must go into persuading the Swede to stay beyond the current campaign.

Nicolas Douchez, Gregory van der Wiel, Maxwell and Ezequiel Lavezzi are also out of contract at the end of June, but all four are replaceable, with the Parisian club already stocked with players in those positions who are either starting already or ready to step up.

Just 12 months ago, it seemed like it was time to let Ibrahimovic go, but with Wednesday’s goal against FC Lorient taking his tally for the season to 20 in Ligue 1, the former AC Milan striker looks like he is back to 100 per cent.

At the start of the year, it was believed PSG president Nasser Al-Khelaifi had pencilled in negotiations for February. With Ibrahimovic scoring six goals in January, those talks can’t come soon enough.

"If I was president of PSG, I would prolong his contract without hesitation," Italian midfielder Marco Verratti told Le Parisien (h/t Goal).

"I know Ibra very well. I see him every day in training and, for me, he remains at his strongest."

It’s hard to argue with the former Pescara player, and Zlatan’s statistics almost speak for themselves.

Michel Euler/Associated Press

He scored 19 goals last season, but seven of those were from the penalty spot. Only five of his 20 goals this campaign have been penalties, and with 14 games left in Ligue 1, you’d put money on him bettering the 30 goals he scored during his debut season in Paris in 2012-13.

Yet it’s not just the goals that have impressed. His overall play has generally been excellent. Angel Di Maria has 10 assists, according to Ligue 1's official siteSunderland’s new signing, Wahbi Khazri, had seven for Bordeaux before he moved to the Stadium of Light, meaning the Argentinian forward is the only player in France with more assists than Zlatan.

His little pass slipped through to Cavani on Wednesday night showed the Swede's vision and deft touch. Now he is back to full fitness, the confidence is flowing and undoubtedly showing in his play. It’s ridiculous to think PSG would entertain any scenario in which they would lose their talisman this summer.

His agent, Mino Raiola, has already negotiated that the final months of his existing deal will be lucrative, reported Le Parisien (h/t City A.M.). It is claimed his new salary will rise to around €1.5 million a month, making him the best-paid player in France ahead of his club's captain, Thiago Silva.

Why would he not want to continue that for another 12 months—or could Raiola negotiate another raise?

Lionel Cironneau/Associated Press

Although it is not certain the forward would accept the offer of another year in the French capital, comments made by Raiola to L’Equipe (h/t ESPN FC’s Mark Rodden) recently will have given the French champions hope they can still keep their star man:

All I can say is that Zlatan is very happy at PSG. But what's going to happen, only Zlatan and God know.

We have a fantastic relationship with the club. We know that we're going to decide the future of Zlatan together when it's time to. He's coming to the end of his contract in Paris so everything that we decide will be done along with PSG. We're partners.

We're not going to set off a war for nothing. PSG have always acted nobly with Zlatan.

As it stands, this is a no-brainer. Ask Ibrahimovic what his demands are to stay in Paris for another 12 months, agree to them and get him to sign on the dotted line.