Former Manchester United player Zlatan Ibrahimovic will not play at the World Cup

by Leo Nieboer

Swedish FA chairman Lars Richt has confirmed that Zlatan Ibrahimovic will not play for Sweden at the World Cup in Russia this summer.

The 36-year-old retired from international football ahead of joining Manchester United ahead of the 2016/17 campaign, during which he claimed 27 goals.

Sweden’s unexpected qualification for the finals at the expense of Italy, however, has prompted speculation surrounding a potential return to the national side for Zlatan.

But Richt has confirmed that Zlatan, who joined LA Galaxy last month, has decided against making a return to the international stage.

“I talked to Zlatan on Tuesday,” he said. “He announced he did not change his mind about the national team – it is no.”

It would be classic Zlatan, but not exactly fair, for the striker to arrive at the World Cup and slot into the No.9 role having watched his teammates reach the finals from his sofa.

Sweden’s manager, Janne Andersson, stressed after securing qualification that the national team needed to move away from being built around Zlatan and evolve into something else.

“This is incredible! This player [Ibrahimovic] has just stopped to play with Sweden one year and a half ago and we are still here talking about him,” he said.

“Gosh, we need to talk about the great players we have in this team I believe.

“What I wanted to say was that this was the demonstration that our collective acted like this during the whole length of the play-offs.

“We have many heroes tonight. I am a bit moved but obviously very happy with the result. When Ibrahimovic was here with us we played a different style of football.

“Considering that he has decided to leave international football, he is a great champion, but we had to adapt and found another style.”

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