In recent times, rumours have begun circling that Swedish superstar Zlatan Ibrahimovic could be making a move to the A-League.
At face value, ‘Ibra’ in the A-League sounds like a fantastic proposition.
He’s a living legend who has won titles just about everywhere he’s gone. AC Milan, Barcelona, Juventus, Inter Milan, Ajax, Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester United are all huge clubs he has played for during his illustrious career.
Say what you will about his arrogance and ego, but it’s a part of why he’s so revered. He doesn’t put on a mask, he is unequivocally himself.
— Sporting News Australia (@sportingnewsau) October 30, 2019
Zlatan would instantly become the biggest name in the league today and one of the biggest names to ever come Down Under.
The exposure that soccer in Australia would get as a result of his arrival in the country would be phenomenal. When Zlatan first arrived in Los Angeles as a part of his move to the MLS, it was the biggest soccer news story at the time. And the MLS is a much larger competition than the A-League.
People from across the globe would start watching A-League fixtures and stadiums would be packed to the rafters.
In a time where soccer in Australia could use a popularity boost, Zlatan would bring people across from other sports and be the star attraction in Australia.
Shirts sales would skyrocket. Fans from other clubs would buy shirts purely because it’s Zlatan.
I mean, you’d be silly not to.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic in the A-League could be the necessary sugar hit the A-League needs. But that could be all it is. A sugar hit. A flash in the pan.
David Villa was fantastic when he was loaned out to Melbourne City, albeit for the mere four games.
Ibra would probably play more than four matches, but the rumours are also stating that he could be in the country for as little as six weeks.
That’s nowhere near enough time.
Once Zlatan leaves, any overseas exposure that arose from his arrival in Australia would instantly dissipate. Fans from other sports would return to their sports of choice.
Basically, any and all interest garnered from Zlatan being in the league would go with Zlatan.
Australian-based soccer fans would understandably feel aggrieved by his departure. There are also many soccer fans based here that do not follow the A-League, instead preferring the European leagues.
After Zlatan leaves, where do you think they’ll go? Back to their Optus Sport subscriptions.
When you look at Zlatan’s playing career, you’ll notice one recurring theme.
At all but one club he’s played for, he’s never made more than 90 appearances.
He made 122 for Paris Saint-Germain during his four year stint in France’s capital, but he has never been one to stay the course with one club.
Four years is indeed his longest tenure at any club but even that’s lower than most players.
What does all this mean? He’s not a loyal player. He doesn’t play for the club. His character is such that he only ever sees what’s in it for him.
What would that mean for whichever A-League club would pick him up?
It would mean that it’s nothing more than a cash grab for him. It would almost be paid leave for someone like Zlatan.
He would train once or twice and play the weekend’s game. But he wouldn’t be giving it his all. His heart wouldn’t be in it.
Yes, he plays with passion and hunger unlike 99% of every player out there. But it’s not as if he’s playing for any reward other than money.
There wouldn’t be much motivation for him.
As a club, do you want your highest paid player to be someone who would be apathetic? I certainly wouldn’t, nor should any other club’s executives.
Zlatan would be a huge coup for the A-League. His name is enough to draw a crowd wherever he goes.
But if his rumoured stint in the A-League would be as little as six to eight weeks, would it be a worthwhile investment for the league and its stakeholders?
That’s for you to decide.