Zlatan Ibrahimovic Won't Play at World Cup, Says Sweden Manager Janne Andersson

Matt JonesFeatured ColumnistApril 24, 2018

Zlatan Ibrahimovic of LA Galaxy looks on during the Major League Soccer match between Atlanta United and LA Galaxy in Carson, California on April 21, 2018. (Photo by Frederic J. BROWN / AFP)        (Photo credit should read FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images)

Sweden manager Janne Andersson has dismissed suggestions that Los Angeles Galaxy centre-forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic could come out of retirement to play at the 2018 FIFA World Cup.

The Swedes qualified for the Russia showpiece after beating Italy over two legs, and talk quickly turned to whether Ibrahimovic, who had retired from national team duty after the UEFA European Championship in 2016, would be recalled to take part.

Speaking to TYC Sport (h/t Calciomercato.com), Andersson insisted nothing has changed regarding the 36-year-old's international prospects.

"Ibrahimovic said no to the national team," he said. "He was not going to be in the team after the European Championship, and I respected him. If you rejected the team, I do not think you should come back. I respect what he said and those who said 'yes.' [Ibrahimovic] has not called me, but he's definitely not included in the plans for the World Cup."

The former Manchester United and Paris Saint-Germain striker has fuelled the speculation since Sweden's qualification was confirmed. 

After they beat the Azzurri over two legs following a pair of monumental defensive performances, the veteran forward posted the following:

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When asked about the prospect in March, the striker said "the door isn't closed for anything," per Luke Brown of The Independent. 

The Swede was then asked on Jimmy Kimmel Live whether he would be involved. "I just said I'm going to the World Cup," Ibrahimovic said. "If I say more, people will hang me, so I have to be careful what I say now."

He also posted the following tweet, insisting the chances of featuring in the tournament are "sky high":

While Ibrahimovic is one of the greatest Swedish players of all time, it doesn't appear as if a return to the squad would be so popular with everyone from his homeland. 

TOPSHOT - Sweden's forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic acknowledges the crowd after Sweden lost 0-1 in the Euro 2016 group E football match between Sweden and Belgium at the Allianz Riviera stadium in Nice on June 22, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / VINCENZO PINTO        (Pho

According to Brown, a poll conducted by a Swedish research consultancy in November revealed 63 per cent of those surveyed would prefer to leave the veteran out of the squad. Andersson's team will take on South Korea, Mexico and defending champions Germany in the group stages of the competition.

Ibrahimovic recently moved from United to the Galaxy and made a stunning debut for his new side, netting twice in a dramatic 4-3 win against local rivals Los Angeles FC. He also grabbed the winning goal away at Chicago Fire earlier this month.

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