Thursday, April 15, 2021

Zlatan and Ronaldo could have been Pirlo´s perfect pairing at Juve – Raiola

SoccerNews in Serie A 8 Dec 2020

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Juventus “made a mistake” by turning down the chance to pair Zlatan Ibrahimovic with Cristiano Ronaldo, according to agent Mino Raiola.

It was announced at the end of August that Ibrahimovic would stay with Milan, where he had made a strong impact in a half-season spell.

His 10 goals in 18 Serie A appearances last term helped to transform a struggling side, and the veteran Swede has stepped up to new levels in 2020-21, with 10 goals in just six league games.

But it appears Ibrahimovic was up for grabs before he committed to another year with Milan, given Raiola says his client could have gone to champions Juventus.

With Andrea Pirlo freshly installed as head coach of the Turin giants, Raiola felt Ibrahimovic and Ronaldo could have been the strike combination to take Juventus to European glory.

In an interview with Tuttosport, Raiola said of Ibrahimovic: “This summer, when he was free, everyone made a mistake not to take him, including Juve.

“He would have been the ideal man to team up with Cristiano Ronaldo and go together to storm the Champions League. Putting two prima donnas together wouldn’t have been a problem.

“Think, what a trio: Pirlo, Ibra and Ronaldo.”

Juventus, for whom Ibrahimovic played two seasons from 2004 to 2006, last won the Champions League in 1996.

This season, they are chasing Milan’s shadow in Serie A, with Ibrahimovic’s goals fuelling confidence and an early-season run at the top of the table.

Milan sit five points clear of nearest rivals Inter, and six ahead of Juve.

“Deservedly. The Rossoneri are the team to beat, I say it and repeat it,” Raiola said. “Zlatan is a priceless player. Always top scorer in Serie A, with two goals more than Ronaldo, despite being still injured. But now his return is imminent.”

Ibrahimovic has scored at a startling rate of one goal every 52.9 minutes in Serie A this season, but Ronaldo is not far behind with one every 58.75 minutes on the pitch.

Of players to have scored more than once this season, they are first and second in the minutes-per-goal standings, with Ibrahimovic also having hit the woodwork once and Ronaldo having done so twice.

Nobody has had more touches in the opposition penalty area than Ibrahimovic (63, level with Roma’s Henrikh Mkhitaryan), who has made his presence felt in devastating fashion.

Raiola added the grand claim that Ibrahimovic is “the most complete player ever in football history”, boasting he possesses “the talent of Messi and the willpower of CR7 [Ronaldo]”.

He said there was no rush to extend the striker’s contract and speculated that a public vote for the Ballon d’Or, which is not being awarded this year because of COVID-19, would have seen Ibrahimovic come out on top.

Raiola represents a string of top-level stars, including Ibrahimovic’s Milan team-mate Gianluigi Donnarumma, the 21-year-old Italy goalkeeper whose contract in San Siro is due to expire at the end of this season.

“At the moment he’s with Milan, then we’ll see,” Raiola said.

“What is certain is that Gigio is no longer what he was four years ago and there are many who ask about him. But I’ll stop here. I don’t want it to become a media renewal like in the past.”

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