Zlatan Ibrahimovic returned to training with the rest of the squad today and hopes to help his team-mates on the field later this month, but has already begun thinking of his future once he has to hang his boots up.
La Gazzetta dello Sport reports that after a long period in Miami to recover from knee surgery, Ibrahimovic is back at Milanello and is closing in on a return to competitive action, but it won’t be in the Champions League.
He was not in the 23-man squad named by Stefano Pioli for the last 16 tie against Spurs and that list cannot be changed after Tottenham, so if Milan manage to get through to the quarter-finals he will not be present.
In all likelihood, it means that Zlatan thus concluded his adventure in European competitions with the 90 minutes he played Milan’s game against Liverpool on 7 December 2021.
Recovering from a broken knee at age 41 isn’t an exact science and the recovery times were always vague. The Swede was aiming for the start of 2023, and then for the derby against Inter, then for the Spurs game and now we must wait to see when his return will come.
After an absence from the fields that has lasted since May 22, the day of the Scudetto win against Sassuolo, this exclusion makes the reality dawn that the end of his playing career is near, something he has admitted himself to being scared of facing.
Unless he chooses some improbable exotic adventure for next season – difficult to imagine, knowing him – Ibra will soon have to understand if his future can still be at Milan. An ambassadorial role is a possibility, also the potential to become a director, but there will be time to talk about it and evaluate. In the meantime, the desire is there to go out on a high.