Zlatan Ibrahimovic is eager to play an important role when Milan look to clinch the Serie A title at Sassuolo on Sunday.
Victory at the Mapei Stadium will see the Rossoneri win the Scudetto for the first time since 2010-11, which was during Ibrahimovic’s first stint with the club.
The Swede returned in January 2020 and in 72 appearances in all competitions has scored 35 goals – nine more than any of his team-mates in the same time frame – at a rate of one every 129 minutes.
Ibrahimovic, whose contract is set to expire at the end of the season, has also contributed 11 assists for a total of 46 goal involvements. Rafael Leao is second on 42 for Milan but has played 28 games more.
Although only 11 of the 40-year-old’s Serie A appearances this season have come as part of the starting line-up, head coach Stefano Pioli believes he has been crucial to Milan’s title challenge behind the scenes.
Asked if Ibrahimovic was keen to play an important role against Sassuolo, Pioli replied: “A lot, like all of us.
“We are experiencing an important moment. The season will finish tomorrow. There’s a difference between winning and losing, and everyone must think they can be decisive.
“Zlatan has brought a strong mentality and quality. He has more football intelligence than anyone else. He has been a reference point and has been instrumental in the growth of the team, which have been good at following his lead. They have become stronger players with him.”
— AC Milan (@acmilan) May 21, 2022
Sassuolo have won each of the past two Serie A meetings between the teams but Milan are on a run of five straight away league wins against the Neroverdi.
“Today, in my opinion, we deserve to be first. We’ve been the best team but also need to be [against Sassuolo],” said Pioli.
“It’s a difficult game. Nobody has given us anything this season and tomorrow will be the same. I just think about preparing as best as possible, knowing that we have reached this point with solid foundations.
“Sassuolo can surprise you. It will be a complicated match tactically and physically, but we know how to fight and suffer.”
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