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Sweden better off without 'best ever' Ibrahimovic - Henrik Larsson

The former striker is eager to see the debate regarding whether or not the veteran frontman should be at the World Cup brought to a close.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic will not line out for Sweden at the World Cup.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic will not line out for Sweden at the World Cup.

HENRIK LARSSON IS tired of the discussion regarding Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s absence from Sweden’s World Cup squad, and believes it’s possible that the decision to overlook him will prove beneficial.

During a lengthy build-up to this summer’s global showpiece in Russia, Ibrahimovic hinted at regular intervals that he was prepared to step out of international retirement and help his country.

Ultimately, though, a 36-year-old now plying his trade in MLS with LA Galaxy has been left watching on from afar, with all parties coming to the conclusion that now is not the right time for a recall.

Larsson is fully supportive of that decision, with the Sweden squad now free of distractions without Ibrahimovic and able to focus on bringing the best out of those at their disposal.

The former Celtic frontman told Betfair: “He is the best player we ever had from Sweden so it is not strange that those questions [about a recall] came up. But I think it is good now for the group that they can focus on the team and the squad.”

Larsson added on the endless debate surrounding a legendary figure with 116 caps to his name: “You guys are still talking about him even though he is not there.

“A fit Zlatan, the way he was before his injury, I think any coach in the world would bring him. But he is not that. There is no point talking about that. It is about the players who are there.

“The team is going to be different in the sense that everybody has to move. The opponent knew in the past that when the ball went up front it was going to him. Now they are not sure.”

“Is it coming short into the feet of either Ola Toivonen and Marcus Berg, who are going to be the two strikers, or are they going long?”

While Ibrahimovic will not be involved at the 2018 World Cup, Manchester United defender Victor Lindelof will be.

The 23-year-old endured a testing debut campaign at Old Trafford in 2017-18 as he struggled for regular starts, but ex-Red Devils loanee Larsson believes he will be a better player for that experience and those to come in Russia.

He added: “I would not say he has been struggling.

“Obviously there have been some games that have not been the best but he has not been playing much either.

“You have to give the boy a little bit more time. He is a very good central defender. The way he reads the game, the way he passes the ball and the speed he has.

“Then it is just a question of getting used to the physicality you have in the Premier League. Next season, he is a clever player, so he is going to adapt.

“He has not been playing week in, week out and you need to do that to get the self-belief.”

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