Ibrahimovic: I am too good for Swedish football

The Sweden international is available on a free transfer after leaving Paris Saint-Germain but he has now rubbished talk that he could return to his homeland with his first club

Zlatan Ibrahimovic has quashed fleeting speculation he could return to Malmo by claiming he is too good for Swedish domestic football.

Ibrahimovic on Monday vowed to return to play in Malmo, with many understanding his promise to mean he could make a sensational switch to his first club.

However, the 34-year-old, who is available on a free transfer following the expiry of his Paris Saint-Germain contract, has now said his only intention is to return to his home city with the national team.

“I am too good for Allsvenskan,” Sweden captain Ibrahimovic told a news conference on Wednesday.


GOALRUMOURS | Tottenham in talks over Lacazette


New Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho – who managed Ibrahimovic at Inter – is thought to be leading the race for the ex-Barcelona and Milan star’s signature, but he is happy to encourage rumours about his future for the time being.

“I want you to write stories, they get me excited, and see who can make up the best ones,” Ibrahimovic told reporters. “When I get tired of them, I’ll let you know where I’ll go.”

Ibrahimovic started his professional career with Malmo, before leaving the Allsvenskan side for Ajax in 2001.

Cavani: I could move to Atletico

The Paris Saint-Germain striker has admitted he is open to a move to the Champions League finalists after the Copa America Centenario this summer

Edinson Cavani might be focused on the upcoming Copa America Centenario with Uruguay, but he has one eye on a potential move to Champions League finalists Atletico Madrid.

The Paris Saint-Germain forward says a move to Atletico would interest him after spending the last three seasons with the French champions.

Cavani has three Ligue 1 medals to his name and has scored 81 goals in 148 appearances for the club.

Having already lost Zlatan Ibrahimovic after the Sweden international chose not to renew his contract at PSG, it is unlikely coach Laurent Blanc  will be willing to lose the Uruguay international.

But keeping him could prove difficult should the La Liga giants make a move for Cavani, who expressed an interest in playing for the club.

“It’s a really competitive team that has demonstrated interest in me and that pleases me, you never know if things could go further,” Cavani told a news conference.

“Football is always changing and you never know.

“Right now I’m a PSG player and I have to respect that; it would be improper to speak more about it.”

And Atletico might have a secret agent in the Uruguay dressing room with defender Diego Godin in Cavani’s ear.

“We’re all friends in the team and Diego is in contact with everybody, being the captain,” the striker said.

“Sometimes it’s inevitable that we’ll talk about the club he’s at, it’s normal he’d consult me about things involving me.”

Ibrahimovic & Joao Mario in, Mata & Memphis out – Manchester United's summer transfer plans

The arrival of Jose Mourinho is likely to herald a significant turnover at Old Trafford, with a number of areas needing to be addressed after a disappointing 2015-16 campaign


GOALANALYSIS


There were months upon months of speculation, but Manchester United’s new era is finally ready to get underway after the appointment of Jose Mourinho following Louis van Gaal’s sacking.

The Portuguese had been linked with a switch to Old Trafford since the day he was fired by Chelsea in December 2015, but now that he has been confirmed as United’s new manager he will know he has a fair old job on to transform a side which has underperformed and underwhelmed in equal measure over the past few years.

With United having missed out on Champions League football for a second time in three years, it is crucial that Mourinho is able to attract key targets who might help return the club to their former status as perennial title challengers without being put off by the prospect of Europa League participation for the next 12 months.

While the enthusiasm on both sides will be significant to begin with, it is clear that a big job lies ahead this summer.


CONFIRMED DEALS


Mourinho’s own arrival has dominated the landscape so far at Old Trafford. Less than two weeks on from the FA Cup triumph which Van Gaal seemed sure would save him from the axe, United’s transfer prospects have taken on a new face thanks to the change in management.

Both Marcus Rashford and Cameron Borthwick-Jackson have already been tied down to new long-term deals and while the Red Devils have not made any new signings as yet, behind the scenes they have been drawing up a suitable case file on players they may want to put to Mourinho as possible additions.


THE DEPARTURES


Naturally there has been much speculation around Juan Mata and his future at the club. The Spaniard fell foul of Mourinho’s desire for multi-faceted attacking midfielders in their short time together at Chelsea, and, while the Spaniard’s two-and-a-half-year spell at United can largely be considered a success, there are no obvious signs that the 53-year-old will be appeased by a notable improvement in the former Valencia man’s game off the ball.

Michael Carrick had seemingly said his goodbyes to many friends and colleagues at Old Trafford with his contract ending this summer, and Wayne Rooney’s decision to share the honour of lifting the FA Cup was thought to have been an indication that his vice-captain would be on his way. However, it appears that the English midfielder could well be thrown the lifeline of a one-year deal by Mourinho.

Others who may not be so lucky include Memphis Depay, who struggled to have an impact during his first season in England, and Marcos Rojo, who rarely convinced in 2015-16 and will be pitted up against the returning Luke Shaw for a place at left-back in the coming campaign, as well as Borthwick-Jackson, who signed a new four-year contract after the season’s end.

Ander Herrera could also be expedited as Mourinho looks for greater presence in the middle of the park, while Bastian Schweinsteiger, who is a known admirer of the Portuguese manager, may be kept on even if he finds himself battling for a starting place on a weekly basis. Daley Blind’s future could also be reviewed, with Mourinho unlikely to want to use him in the centre-back position he occupied for the vast majority of 2015-16, though his flexibility might be the one asset which could save him from the exit door.

David de Gea remains a big question mark too, with his failed move to Real Madrid weighing heavily on the club’s collective mind. With the European champions facing a potential transfer ban at some point soon, it might well be a case of now or never for the goalkeeper and Madrid. The 25-year-old’s future will surely be one of the key subjects Mourinho will address in his opening weeks in the job.


THE ARRIVALS


The first question that regularly springs to supporters’ minds when a new manager arrives pertains to which players they may bring with them, and that is certainly true of United fans who have seen static football and uninspiring additions over the past few years.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic has been the biggest name linked so far, with a package worth up to £34 million prepared for the Swede after his exit from Paris Saint-Germain. As a big admirer of Mourinho, with whom he spent his final year at Inter in 2008-09, Ibrahimovic is the preferred candidate to change the shape of United’s attack as the new boss looks to add a trademark centre-forward to the ranks.

In midfield there are a number of options available to Mourinho as he attempts to address the significant shortcomings experienced in that area under Van Gaal. While Renato Sanches was overlooked before Bayern Munich snapped him up from Benfica, there are further Portuguese targets in Valencia’s Andre Gomes and Joao Mario of Sporting Lisbon.

It is Joao Mario who Mourinho seemingly has a greater thirst for, with his flexibility in playing both as a central midfielder and a right-sided player giving him further options to consider. The addition of the 23-year-old would not necessarily be in preference to Gomes though, who could also be added if a deal can be agreed.

While Paul Pogba has been briefly mentioned as a possible target, there remains a degree of resentment on the player’s part following his previous experience at Old Trafford. The lack of Champions League football would also weigh against United were they to make a move for the Frenchman.

There are a number of likely defensive targets, and while an approach for John Stones is unlikely to be successful given the player’s preference for Manchester City, Kostas Manolas has been watched extensively by United and teed up for a bid should Mourinho give the club’s board the all-clear. Medhi Benatia could also be considered despite notable interest from Arsenal.

While De Gea’s future needs to be addressed first and foremost, Champions League final participants Jan Oblak and Keylor Navas are both thought to be on United’s radar in the event that the three-time United Player of the Year decides he wants to cut ties after five years at the Theatre of Dreams.


HOW THE TEAM WILL LOOK


While there are likely to be plenty of options open to Mourinho if he gets the squad of his choice together over the next few months, a typical United starting XI is likely to have a similar shape, if a very different work ethic, to the one regularly sent out by Van Gaal.

Key additions through the spine of the team will be vital in United regaining a forceful presence in the title race and beyond.

Lo Celso & Diarra in, Ibrahimovic out – Paris Saint-Germain's summer transfer plans

With Zlatan Ibrahimovic departing the Parc des Princes, the Ligue 1 champions are pondering solutions that will allow them to replace their former Swedish superstar


GOALANALYSIS


The season is over and Paris Saint-Germain are ready to chase a number of transfer targets to strengthen their side. If a number of big names are guaranteed to leave, there is little chance of other changes, as PSG do not want to revolutionise the squad.

With the departure of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Laurent Blanc has announced his desire to have “a collective focus” in order to open a new chapter for the club. It will all be done with little touches, while the Ligue 1 champions will look, in particular, for youngsters with great potential.


CONFIRMED DEALS


No signings have been officially concluded prior to the opening of the transfer window on June 9, but PSG are already making progress as they look to add reinforcements. Giovanni Lo Celso, a midfielder at Rosario, will sign for the club in the weeks to follow. The Argentine side will need to officially sell him before July 1 if they are to loan him back for a subsequent six months.

Lo Celso, 20, is not expected to arrive in Paris this summer. Rosario have announced that they want to keep the player until at least December 31, 2016, so he is unlikely to make his PSG debut before January.

Ibrahimovic will depart on a Bosman deal, though his destination is not yet known, and Gregory van der Wiel will be released. 


THE DEPARTURES


For the first time since QSI took over the club, PSG have allowed an influential member of their squad to leave. Aside from the departures of Ibrahimovic and Van der Wiel at the end of their respective contracts, goalkeeper Salvatore Sirigu can depart. Under contract until 2018, the Italian hopes to find a club where he can earn a regular starting berth and play Champions League football – not easy given the strength of goalkeeping in Europe.

Fellow stopper Alphonse Areola will return from a loan spell at Villarreal, but competition from Kevin Trapp and the likely contract extension of Nicolas Douchez may see him seek a fourth successive loan.

Thiago Motta will stay at PSG for one last season before his contract expires next summer.

There will be little movement otherwise. Only Lucas, who refused an offer from Manchester United last January, seems to have significant questions over his future. For Cavani, Rabiot and Javier Pastore, the exit door is firmly shut.


THE ARRIVALS


Year six of QSI’s PSG project will begin in July. It will be the first time in four years that Zlatan Ibrahimovic will not carry the standard of the capital club. The Swede was a star who made the club a talking point in every corner of the world. In Indonesia, Malaysia and even Mexico, Ibra was the player who carried the PSG brand. Aside from his qualities on the field, he brought a marketable dimension off it.

Now PSG face a challenge of maintaining their status in the wake of the striker’s departure. Among their current squad, only David Luiz has significant marketing potential that can be exploited. Indeed, the Parisians would like to have seen Marco Verratti – currently injured – go to Euro 2016 and continue his rise to greatness under the eyes of the world.

This void means that there is an important new criteria that PSG will assess when making their summer moves, and they will look to Europe’s biggest clubs for a solution. In a sporting and marketing context, Neymar would be the ideal solution, but the Barcelona star is ready to extend his contract until 2021 at Camp Nou.

For Blanc, the transfer market will be concentrated upon finding a great No.9 to challenge Edinson Cavani for a place at the head of the attack, a left winger, to replace the Uruguayan out wide, and a player to support Lucas Moura. Two signings are anticipated in midfield. A defensive player is also expected to sign in order to allow Thiago Motta more rest, while a young, technical, box-to-box player is on the shopping list. And in defence the club will tinker with its full-backs, while browsing for promising youngsters.

Lassana Diarra is a major target for the Parisians. The midfielder has a morale clause in his contract that allows him to leave the club each summer until the end of his contract in June 2019. Negotiations between the player’s agent and PSG have already been going on for several months, but the wage demands of the former Arsenal man may see him make a return to England. If that happens, PSG are ready to put their confidence in Adrien Rabiot and sign a more attacking player, such as N’Golo Kante.

Of course, PSG are exploring numerous options to replace Ibrahimovic in attack. If Mauro Icardi is someone much appreciated at the Parc des Princes, there is interest, too, in Alexandre Lacazette, Alvaro Morata and Gonzalo Higuain. But in each of these cases, PSG are up against stiff competition. This is where the club must show that they are a truly great side.

On the left wing, Alexis Sanchez has long been followed by scouts, yet the Arsenal ace will sign a new contract with the Emirates side this summer. Julian Weigl was contacted, but he was quick to reject a move. If Marco Reus and Eden Hazard are on the shortlist currently, those cases seem a little onerous for PSG, who are keeping money aside to try to tempt Neymar to sign in 2017.

Aside from those players that PSG want to strengthen the starting XI, the club is also looking to make moves to echo the arrival of Verratti from Pescara in 2012. Youri Tielemans (Anderlecht), Dusan Vlahovic (Partizan Belgrade), Mahmoud Dahoud (Borussia Monchengladbach) and Jeremy Toljan (Hoffenheim) are being tracked.


HOW THE TEAM WILL LOOK


Blanc is a disciple of the 4-3-3 formation and is not about to change his system next season. The bulk of the squad will remain the same, although there are likely to be one or perhaps even two alterations in the forward three.