Zlatan Ibrahimovic Says His Mind Is Sharp, Body to Follow After First Milan Goal

Gianni Verschueren@ReverschPassFeatured ColumnistJanuary 11, 2020

CAGLIARI, ITALY - JANUARY 11:  Zlatan Ibrahimovic of Milan looks on   during the Serie A match between Cagliari Calcio and AC Milan at Sardegna Arena on January 11, 2020 in Cagliari, Italy.  (Photo by Enrico Locci/Getty Images)
Enrico Locci/Getty Images

AC Milan striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic has said he is looking for his best physical form after scoring his first goal for the Rossoneri since returning to the club.

The 38-year-old was on point in the 2-0 win over Cagliari, making his first start and playing the full 90 minutes in Sardinia. He told Sky Italia (h/t Football Italia) he's mentally already in the right place and his physique will follow:

"It's important for a striker to try and be there, then sometimes it goes in, sometimes it doesn't. I feel good, I got a few balls wrong at the start of the game, but I need a few matches to get into shape.

"I'll celebrate like a God at San Siro, not here. I celebrate God every time I score, that way I feel alive!

"I feel good, the coach just wanted to think about by age and see if I needed a rest, but there's no problem. My mind is still sharp and the body has to follow."

Rafael Leao got the opener for Milan with a lucky deflection, before Ibrahimovic produced an expert finish to double the lead:

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The goal made him the fifth-oldest Milan scorer in Serie A history:

It also meant he has now scored in four different decades:

The Swede played 35 minutes in the scoreless draw against Sampdoria, his first outing since the MLS season came to an end and his first time playing for Milan in eight years.

He scored 56 in 85 appearances during his first spell with the club, per Football Italia. That stint yielded one Serie A title and a Supercoppa Italiana, before he left for Paris Saint-Germain.

He spent four seasons in Paris before moving to Manchester United and eventually ended up with the L.A. Galaxy in 2018. By that stage of his career, it appeared he would never play for a club in one of Europe's top leagues again, given his advanced age.

Spada/Associated Press

But Ibrahimovic kept scoring, netting 53 goals in two seasons in MLS. And with former club Milan in dire need of attacking help, a reunion became more likely as the January window drew near.

Krzysztof Piatek, last year's top attacking acquisition for the Rossoneri, has netted just four goals in Serie A so far this season. He could be on his way out, with plenty of links to Tottenham, per Sky Italia (h/t Ricky Sacks):

Leao is seen as a top talent, but the Portuguese is just 20 years old and has limited experience in Serie A. He could benefit greatly from playing next to a veteran like Ibrahimovic, who has a similar play style as a strong-bodied, bigger technical forward.

Milan have collected just 25 points from 19 matches so far this season, chasing sixth-placed Cagliari by four points. They'll host SPAL in the Coppa Italia on Wednesday.

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