AC Milan’s Zlatan Ibrahimovic hasn’t shown his best yet – Stefano Pioli


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AC Milan boss Stefano Pioli believes the club have yet to see the “real” Zlatan Ibrahimovic after he made his return to the club at the end of December.

Ibrahimovic, 38, has made two appearances for Milan since joining them as a free agent after spending two years with the LA Galaxy in Major League Soccer.

The former Sweden international played well as a substitute in a 0-0 draw with Sampdoria in his first appearance for Milan and then scored a goal and had one disallowed in a 2-0 win at Cagliari as a starter in his second.

“We’ll see the real Ibrahimovic after a few games,” Pioli said. “He wants to prove that he is still up to the challenge, working like this he will certainly do well for everyone.

“He hadn’t played for a while but he is very helpful and positive to his teammates. He can’t do anything but improve.”

Ibrahimovic was an unused substitute in Wednesday’s Coppa Italia victory over SPAL, but he was constantly giving advice to teammates and was also the first on his feet to applaud each of the goals in the 3-0 win.

“Ibrahimovic is a very important player for us and we brought him in also to give us this shake-up that we needed,” technical director Paolo Maldini said. “He is a leader, an important player. He is still good enough to play at the top level and he has shown that already.”

Fellow new signing Simon Kjaer has played against Ibrahimovic several times. The last time they met, in a Europa League match between Manchester United and Fenerbahce in 2016, Ibrahimovic grabbed Kjaer by the throat and the duo had to be separated by Jose Mourinho and a match official.

Kjaer later called Ibrahimovic “arrogant.”

“Ibra is someone who gives you something extra, not just on the pitch but also mentally,” Kjaer said on Thursday. “Ibrahimovic and I have had our battles on the pitch but there are no problems. It’s a boost to all of us to have him in the group.

“There’s no need for me or any other footballing person to say how good he is. Everyone knows that even at 38 years old, even not having the same physique he had 10 years ago, he can still make the difference.”

Information from the Associated Press was used in this story.

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