Zlatan Ibrahimovic reignites his long-running feud with Pep Guardiola as AC Milan striker claims ‘things turned sour’ for him at Barcelona after a ‘great’ first six months due to the Manchester City coach
- Zlatan Ibrahimovic spent a year at Barcelona before Pep Guardiola sold him
- The Swede has previously lambasted Guardiola for favouring Lionel Messi
- He has also criticised the Manchester City manager’s man-management skills
- Ibrahimovic is currently the third-top scorer in Serie A as AC Milan sit top
Zlatan Ibrahimovic has once again hit out at Pep Guardiola as their long-running feud from their Barcelona days continues.
The AC Milan forward, who is currently third-top scorer in Serie A this season with 10 goals, behind only Romelu Lukaku and Cristiano Ronaldo, was signed by Guardiola in the summer of 2009 after the Swede had spent three years at Inter Milan, but the big-money move was spoiled as their personalities clashed.
Speaking to La Gazzetta dello Sport in quotes carried by AS, Ibrahimovic aimed his latest dig at Guardiola: ‘Barcelona was a phenomenal team. The first six months were great and then, due to the fault of the coach, things turned sour.’
Zlatan Ibrahimovic lasted just one season at Barcelona after falling out with Pep Guardiola
Ibrahimovic was unhappy about the favouritism he
Things initially went well at Barca for Ibrahimovic, who scored seven goals in his first seven league games in a team that had just secured the La Liga, Champions League and Copa del Rey treble in Guardiola’s first season.
However, Ibrahimovic grew tired of what he saw as favouritism towards then 22-year-old superstar Lionel Messi before he was moved from his favoured central striking role and then shipped out on loan to AC Milan in the summer of 2010 for his first stint there, signing permanently the following year.
In a book co-written by journalist Sebastian Fest, it is revealed that Messi messaged his boss while sitting on the team coach one day after a game to indicate his unease at his place in the pecking order following Ibrahimovic’s signing. ‘I see I’m not important anymore,’ Messi reportedly wrote.
The now Manchester City manager eventually decided to offload Ibrahimovic after a season and build the team around Messi, with Ibrahimovic branding Guardiola a ‘coward’ for allegedly never being straight with him about why he had fallen out of favour.
The decision saw Messi’s goals tally rocket as he became the most idolised player on the planet, while Ibrahimovic has never forgiven Guardiola.
Ibrahimovic found the environment stifling and thought Barca’s stars were far too scared to stand up to the club’s former midfielder, saying: ‘When Guardiola spoke they would just sit there and nod. Like schoolboys in front of the teacher.’
Writing in his own book, he stated: ‘When you buy me, you are buying a Ferrari. If you drive a Ferrari, you put premium petrol in the tank, you hit the motorway and you step on the gas. Guardiola filled up with diesel and took a spin in the countryside. He should have bought a Fiat.’
Samuel Eto’o’s time at Barcelona also came to an abrupt end after one year under Guardiola
Ibrahimovic is thriving at AC Milan as the club are unbeaten and currently top of Serie A
Ibrahimovic has also lambasted Guardiola for his man-management skills, telling Sky Sports Italia in late 2017: ‘I’d walk into a room and he’d walk out. I’d go to meet him and he’d go somewhere else. I understood that there was something beyond football.
‘The problem was his. It was he who hadn’t solved the problem with me. I remember on my first day, he told me that the Barcelona players didn’t turn up to training in Ferraris or Porsches.
‘He’d already judged me then, but if you don’t know a person, then you can’t judge them. I had my experience with him, I don’t know about others.
‘I read the same thing had happened to (Mario) Mandzukic and (Samuel) Eto’o. He wasn’t the worst coach I’d worked under, but he was certainly the most immature because a man solves his problems.
‘I’d scored a lot of goals in my first six months and we won two Super Cups. The first six months were perfect.
Barcelona’s former maestro Xavi is included in Ibrahimovic’s dream XI alongside Patrick Vieira
‘After that, we changed system and tactics, and it wasn’t good for me, so the club told me to talk to Guardiola, and I told Guardiola that he’d sacrificed the other players for (Lionel) Messi. He told me he understood me.
‘After that, he put me on the bench for the next game, the one after that and the one after that, and I thought: “He’s solved the problem very well I see!” After that, he didn’t talk to me or even look at me.’
Despite being in the twilight of his career, Ibrahimovic is enjoying a new lease of life in his second spell at the Rossoneri, with Stefano Pioli’s team unbeaten and sitting top of Serie A as they target their first league title in 10 seasons.
The polarising talisman has also revealed his fantasy XI, with his former team-mate at the Nou Camp Xavi making the cut.
Also included were Gianluigi Buffon, Alessandro Nesta, Fabio Cannavaro, Maxwell, Maicon, Pavel Nedved, Patrick Vieira, Zinedine Zidane, Diego Maradona and Ronaldo.
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