Victor Lindelof Named Sweden's Player of the Year Ahead of Zlatan Ibrahimovic

Matt JonesFeatured ColumnistNovember 13, 2018

TURIN, ITALY - NOVEMBER 07: Victor Lindeloef of Manchester United looks on during the Group H match of the UEFA Champions League between Juventus and Manchester United at  on November 7, 2018 in Turin, Italy. (Photo by TF-Images/Getty Images)
TF-Images/Getty Images

Manchester United defender Victor Lindelof was crowned as Sweden's Player of the Year on Monday, beating former team-mate Zlatan Ibrahimovic to the prize.

Lindelof was recognised for his excellent performances at the 2018 FIFA World Cup as Sweden made a shock run to the quarter-finals. He has also made strides for the Red Devils recently after a difficult first season at Old Trafford following his move from Benfica in 2017.

"It means very much for me to receive this prize," Lindelof said after picking up the Guldbollen prize, per the United website. "I am extremely proud and grateful. I want to thank all my team-mates in my club and national team, but also my family, who have always been there for me in wet and dry. You really mean everything to me."

The 24-year-old posted the following message on Twitter:

Victor Lindelöf @vlindelof

To the 12 year old me. You didn’t dream too big... https://t.co/fzJ20cI8PO

Lindelof becomes only the second player to win the award after Ibrahimovic's picked up the prize every year between 2007 and 2016. Sweden captain Andreas Granqvist was the 2017 winner.

Per the SwedeStats account, Ibrahimovic was at the ceremony, where he was crowned as the Forward of the Year following his excellent campaign with the Los Angeles Galaxy:

🇸🇪 @SwedeStats

Forward of the year: Zlatan Ibrahimovic No surprise there! https://t.co/ruldCEQfUa

The veteran striker was also in attendance to present an award on the night:

🇸🇪 @SwedeStats

Ibra is here to give out the Number 10 award! https://t.co/yj2cgsLXk1

🇸🇪 @SwedeStats

The Number 10 stipendium goes to Grunden Bois who is a club for people with disabilities. €100k is massive for a club like that!

Lindelof found it tough at United in his debut campaign, with the speed and physicality of the Premier League clearly catching him off guard following his move from Portugal.

There were some worrying signs earlier in this term too, although of late he appears to have turned a corner. Alongside Chris Smalling, he has been much more comfortable and commanding in recent outings.

Samuel Luckhurst of the Manchester Evening News said he still wants to see a little more from the defender:

Samuel Luckhurst @samuelluckhurst

Victor Lindelof received the Guldbollen for Swedish player of the year. Had a fine World Cup and improved for #mufc in recent weeks but needs to go on a lengthy and steady run of form if he is to properly convince.

Ibrahimovic left United earlier in the year to link up with the Galaxy in Major League Soccer, and his time in Los Angeles has proved to be a big success. He was named as the division's Newcomer of the Year ahead of DC United's Wayne Rooney following the regular season:

B/R Football @brfootball

The 2018 MLS Newcomer of the Year: @Ibra_official 🥂 https://t.co/WMA3i3ElK3

Ibrahimovic, now 37 years old, scored 22 goals and notched eight assists for the Galaxy in 2018, although a loss at home to Houston Dynamo ended their hopes of qualifying for the play-offs.

In a season of defensive instability at United, Lindelof does appear to be slowly establishing himself as the team's best centre-back. Even so, manager Jose Mourinho will surely be looking for reinforcements at the back in upcoming transfer windows, as they've conceded 21 times in their first 12 top-flight matches this season.