'Nobody is brave enough to disappoint Zlatan' – Ibrahimovic will raise standards at AC Milan, says Ekdal

The 38-year-old has returned to his former club with the aim of turning a dreadful season around, and his former team-mate says he is up to the task

Zlatan Ibrahimovic will prove a quality addition at AC Milan and improve the rest of the struggling Serie A side’s players, according to former Sweden team-mate Albin Ekdal.

Ibrahimovic, 38, has returned to Milan on a free transfer with a contract running initially until the end of the season.

He scored 56 goals in 85 games in his first spell at San Siro, winning Milan’s most recent Serie A title in 2010-11. Now, Milan are struggling, 11th in the table and with half the points of league leaders and city rivals Inter.

“Ibra at any age will always be at a top club and Milan, even today, is one,” Ekdal told Il Secolo XIX.

“I didn’t think he would go to a team with less history and importance like some of the ones mentioned with him recently.

“Being able to choose, I knew he would say yes to Milan.

“A champion like him is always good for any team, and Milan have done very well. I think it is a brilliant signing, both for what he will bring and for what he will bring out of others.”

After two years in MLS with LA Galaxy and with his career presumably coming towards its end, some have suggested that Ibrahimovic represents an act of desperation from Milan rather than a quality signing.

Sampdoria midfielder Ekdal doesn’t believe this to be the case.

Asked whether he thought Ibrahimovic would still make a difference at San Siro, he replied: “Definitely, for two reasons. One, he is an exemplary professional who always trains to the maximum, so he is always at his peak physically.

“Two, with him on the pitch, everybody plays better because nobody is brave enough to disappoint him.

“Nobody wants to disappoint Ibra – anybody who has played with him knows what I mean.

“He always wants to win, even in training, even when it doesn’t count.

“If he doesn’t win, he gets p*ssed off, first with himself and then with anybody who hasn’t given everything to make him win.

“He has a winning mentality that spreads to everyone in the team. He will raise the quality at Milan.”

Ibrahimovic could come up against his old team-mate Ekdal in his first match, with Milan hosting Sampdoria on January 6.

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