Why PSG Should Keep Zlatan!


French football writer Andrew Gibney is my best friend in the football writing world. The good sign for every lasting friendship is that you can agree and disagree with everything the other person says, yet you still remain best of chums.

Andrew is fantastic and we’ve had so many football discussions that we always seem to know what the other is thinking. Yet Andrew can still throw a few curve balls into conversations that I just cannot get my head around and it probably works vice versa with certain things I say to him.

So I wasn’t surprised with his ‘Zlatan must leave‘ article on Four Four Two. As with most things Andrew does, its well written and he makes a good fist of his argument. But no matter how many times I read it, I just can’t agree with it.

The premise of the argument seems to centre around Zlatan Ibrahimovic being too big for PSG and too much of a distraction. It suggests that the rest of the squad needs him to step aside and then they can take centre stage.

Now why can’t they step up with Zlatan in the side? Does the star player hold back those around him? Does Lionel Messi hold back Barca? Does Cristiano Ronaldo hold back Real Madrid?

With Zlatan in the squad PSG have won two Ligue 1 titles, their first since 1994 and only their third and fourth titles overall.

Yes Paris Saint-Germain have bought well and have a very strong squad but these players will welcome a world-class maverick like Zlatan who can be the difference between winning an important game and not.

Now Andrew points out that since Zlatan’s injury this term Edinson Cavani has stepped up. That’s what was meant to happen. Surely Cavani’s performances in the past few months show that PSG have done well with their buying policy and that they aren’t reliant on just one player. But let’s not forget that in fourteen Ligue 1 games Edinson has scored seven times, that is one less than Zlatan in six fewer starts. Also its only natural that Cavani was to do better this term than last as he has had over a year to settle in at his new club.

At thirty-three years of age, Zlatan isn’t even over the hill as his goalscoring exploits have shown this term. Plus didn’t a certain Swede by the name of Henrik Larsson show that age counts for little when you have permanent class?

As long as Ibrahimovic has hunger in his belly then why not keep him and use his experience to fulfil PSG’s ambitions?

Now Andrew pointed out that the Ligue 1 champs fell out of the Champions League at the quarter final stages in their last two attempts . That’s pretty good going considering as a club they hadn’t had too much recent experience in Europe’s elite competition. Andrew also says that reaching the last eight of the Champions League should be a bare requirement for any top club, well what about Man Utd, Liverpool, AC Milan and Inter? (All clubs with richer European traditions than PSG). Its a privilege to go far in any illustrious competition not a god given right, no matter how much you fling at it!

We shouldn’t forget that the owners of Paris Saint-Germain also want a brand, not just a decent football outfit. With that in mind they want superbly talented, worldwide known faces. Only David Luiz compares to Zlatan in this marketing way and even then he lacks that magical quality (some call it arrogance) that Zlatan possesses. For me, I’d tie down the Swedish striker for the rest of his career and then make him a club ambassador.

With the club chasing Marseille in the league and now into the last 16 of the Champions League, it would be folly to get rid of their talisman at this stage.

Sometimes the good teams need a genius to see off the really big challenges, is there anyone in the current PSG roster (oh how American) that can carry Paris Saint-Germain to higher levels than Zlatan can?

I seriously doubt it!

Now will I have changed Andrew’s mind on this subject? Not a chance, but then there is nothing wrong with that. His article did whats great in football writing, it raises debate.

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