Zlatan Ibrahimović reveals how he tried to sabotage his own move to Paris Saint-Germain
Does this constitute a sliding doors moment?
Every now and then, football is shaped by one moment. It could be a transfer, one lucky cup run that propels a club into a new realm of success, or a manager's decision (not) to retire.
Eric Cantona joining Manchester United, Sir Alex Ferguson's u-turn on retirement in 2001, and Leicester City sacking Nigel Pearson to hire Claudio Ranieri spring to mind as the most prominent examples of a sliding doors moment in football. The sport as a whole could look very different now had these things not happened.
Zlatan Ibrahimović's move to Paris Saint-Germain in 2012 could also fall into this category, as his move to the Ligue 1 side was hugely instrumental in them consolidating power in France and beginning to compete with Europe's elite clubs.
But it almost didn't happen. In a new biography, documenting the latter years of his career, Ibrahimović has revealed how he tried to sabotage the move in order to spite the AC Milan chief executive at the time, Adriano Galliani.
In the summer of 2012, there was constant speculation around Ibrahimović and his future at AC Milan. The club were in a bit of financial trouble, but the striker was given assurances that he would not be sold. Alas, an irrefutable offer from PSG came in and the wheels were in motion.
“I was in my summer home in Vaxholm and I’d just come back in from jet-skiing. That’s when I noticed that I had five missed calls from [the player’s agent] Mino Raiola.”
Returning the call, Ibrahimovic was told by his representative: “Ok, Leonardo is going to give you a call.”
"I decided I wasn't going to make it easy for PSG," admitted Ibrahimović.
Feeling let down by Milan for going behind his back, the striker picked up the phone again and called Raiola. “I said to Mino: ‘Listen, I’m not to talk to Leonardo because Galliani told me that I wouldn’t be sold this summer.’ Then Mino said ‘yeah, I know, but you’ve been sold already.’”
This was when the Swede tried to formulate a plan to prevent the transfer from happening.
“I spoke to Mino again and told him we weren’t going to make it easy for PSG. We were going to tell them that I wanted the same salary I had at Milan and we were going to ask for so much stuff that they’d think it wasn’t worth it. I told Mino to lay out all the conditions of my contract one by one. When we’d finished I said to my wife that they’d never accept all my demands, that there was no way it would go through. But 20 minutes later Mino sent me a text saying it had all been approved.”
“After that, there was no going back,” Ibrahimovic concluded. “So I accepted [the move] because I am a man of my word and when I say something I stick to it.”
In the end, he is probably glad that he ended up at PSG. In his own words, he 'came as a king, left as a legend', having scored 156 goals in 180 games and won four consecutive league titles with the club.