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Ibrahimovic welcomes Giroud to Milan talk and urges Donnarumma to stay

SoccerNews in English Premier League 4 Jun 2021

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Zlatan Ibrahimovic says Olivier Giroud’s trophy-winning experienced would be welcome at Milan and has urged Gianluigi Donnarumma to reconsider his decision to leave San Siro.

France international Giroud is out of contract at Chelsea later this month and has been strongly linked with a move to Milan as they seek a replacement for departing striker Mario Mandzukic.

Giroud has spent the past three and a half seasons at Stamford Bridge, winning three major trophies across – including the Champions League last weekend.

The 34-year-old did not play any part in a 1-0 win over Manchester City in the final in Porto, but his six goals were the most of any Chelsea player in the 2020-21 competition.

Only Kylian Mbappe (eight) and Erling Haaland (10) scored more Champions League goals, though Giroud boasted the better minutes-per-goal ratio of the three.

Giroud also won the FA Cup three times with Arsenal and the Ligue 1 title at Montpellier, as well as lifting the World Cup with France in 2018, which Ibrahimovic believes would help Milan greatly.

“The more high-level players we can get, the better,” he told La Gazzetta dello Sport. “Giroud has great experience and we don’t have many players who have won trophies. 

“If he comes he is welcome. This is a well-guided group who want to learn and improve.”

Milan led the way at the top of San Siro for a large part of last season, only to drift away before eventually finishing as runners-up to bitter rivals Inter.

Goalkeeper Donnarumma played a big part in the Rossoneri’s highest league finish since 2011-12 with 14 clean sheets – a joint-high along with Inter’s Samir Handanovic.

The 22-year-old has been with Milan since 2013 and has been a regular for the last six seasons, but he is set to leave the club this month after turning down a new contract.

Ibrahimovic is disappointed to see Donnarumma depart, feeling that the youngster could have become a one-club man like Paolo Maldini, who is now a director at the club.

“I’m sorry for Gigio,” Ibrahimovic said. “I’ll ask you a question: how much is Donnarumma worth?

“He came through Milan’s academy and could have been the team’s goalkeeper for 20 years – maybe not 20 because he is not Ibra – but he is the strongest in the world. 

“He could have become Mr Milan, like Maldini. What value could he give to Maldini? There is no measure. 

“Everyone has a value – it depends on how much you need that player. The market dictates the value. It’s like on the stock market. 

“If Gigio will leave or not, I don’t know. It takes two to tango. I would tell him to stay at Milan until the end.”

Ibrahimovic scored 15 goals and assisted two in 19 Serie A appearances last season, averaging 1.02 direct goal involvements per 90 minutes.

That is behind only Cristiano Ronaldo (1.03), Dries Mertens (1.04), Romelu Lukaku (1.09) and Luis Muriel (1.95) among players to have played more than 15 times in 2020-21.

He suffered with injuries and illness in the second half of the season, though, and will miss out on a recall to the Sweden team at Euro 2020 as a result of his latest setback.

“I suffered because of the injuries, but I’ve spent 18 amazing months back at Milan,” he said. “Milan are back in the Champions League, and the fans deserved that. 

“I wanted to win the Scudetto, we were up there, but we’ve improved a lot.

“I got angry every day this season. It’s not a negative thing for me. It’s a way to make people understand how much you care about what you are doing.

“I have more responsibility, I feel like a leader. The relationship with the club is clear and the players must work every day to take Milan back to where we belong.”

Asked if he intends to become Stefano Pioli’s assistant when he eventually brings an end to his playing career, Ibrahimovic said: “I already am!”

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