Zlatan Ibrahimovic is one of the most interesting and enigmatic characters in world football, and a controversial one as well.
From jokingly kicking Antonio Cassano in the head while the Italian was speaking to journalists to punching Marco Rossi during a game, from making controversial comments on female footballers to writing an autobiography that is largely an attack on his former coach Pep Guardiola, he has often hit the headlines for the wrong reasons.
Not that they have actually hampered Ibrahimovic on the pitch. The Sweden international is a world-class striker and remains one of the best players on the planet even at the age of 32. He has won league titles with all but one of the clubs he has played for, including eight successive championship triumphs between 2004 and 2011 in three different countries.
And any doubts that he fails to deliver on the biggest stage in club football, the Champions League, have faded away. Last season he scored three goals and provided seven assists in nine games in Europe and led Paris Saint-Germain to the quarter-finals.
This campaign Ibrahimovic has found the net 10 times in seven Champions League matches and on 25 occasions in Ligue 1, as PSG comfortably sit 10 points clear at the top of the table.
Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho knows all about Ibrahimovic, especially from the 2008-09 season when he worked with the Swede at Inter Milan. The Nerazzurri failed to do much in Europe that term, but they did win Serie A, with Ibrahimovic leading the scoring charts with 25 goals.
The Portuguese will face the former Ajax and AC Milan forward when Chelsea face PSG in the quarter-finals of the Champions League next month.
Mourinho is wary of how important it is for his defenders to keep Ibrahimovic under check and insists that the striker is not a difficult player to work with.
“I don’t understand when people say he is a difficult guy to work with, or a difficult personality,” The Mirror quotes the 51-year-old as saying.
“A difficult personality (is) when you have to work with people who don’t want to win or don’t want to improve.
“When you have somebody that is a winner and wants to win all the time and wants to be the best and is not afraid of the big responsibilities, I think he is very, very easy.
“I only coached him for a year but it was a good year, a good experience - I rate him as one of the best players I have ever coached.”
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