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Zlatan's World Cup return cast into doubt by Sweden boss, questioned by colleague

The enigmatic striker has expressed a desire to come out of international retirement this summer.

Image: AFP/Getty Images

ZLATAN IBRAHIMOVIC MAY want to return to international football at this summer’s World Cup, but he’s not currently in Sweden’s plans according to their head coach.

The 36-year-old frontman called time on a memorable career with his country after Euro 2016, with 116 appearances and 62 goals recorded over 15 years.

Ibrahimovic has, however, revealed that he would be willing to come back into the fold for another outing at football’s global showpiece in Russia.

His undoubted ability would be welcomed by most in the Swedish squad, but Sweden head coach Janne Andersson insists the enigmatic striker is not currently part of the picture for Russia.

Andersson told TV4′s Fotbollskanalen he has not held any talks with Ibrahimovic and is preparing for a World Cup without the former Inter and Paris Saint-Germain star.

“Zlatan and a number of other players said they did not want to join the national team after the European Championships in France, and I respect that,” he said. “But what the media is speculating about and what Zlatan himself is talking about, I cannot relate to that. I relate to what has been said between us.

“We have had a deal where we agreed on what was going on and where he was very clear to me. I agreed with that.”

Andersson stated Ibrahimovic has not called him to discuss World Cup participation and was clear when asked whether the forward was part of Sweden’s plans. “No, absolutely not,” he added. “Because he has said ‘no’.

“The others who have said ‘no’ are not included either. Those who are included are those who have said ‘yes’.”

Sweden back-up goalkeeper Karl-Johan Johnsson fears the presence of an “individualist” such as Ibrahimovic may deflect too much attention away from others and force a tactical rethink.

The man who plays his club football for French side Gunigamp told Main Oppose of the enigmatic striker: “It’s up to the coach to see if he wants to bring him.

We managed to qualify and go through to the World Cup without him, and I think we can manage to play well at the World Cup without him.

“But as I said, it’s up to the coach to decide if he wants him to join, and I’m sure if he does join, he will play well.”

Johnsson added: “As a team, we play as a collective, all the players together.

With Zlatan, as a person, as a player he’s an individualist, and the play goes around him. Instead, now, we play more with the team all together.

“It’s a different style of play when you have a player like Zlatan, Cristiano [Ronaldo] or [Lionel] Messi in your team, because they’re world-class players, and you have to use those players to win the game and play in a special way.

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“I don’t know if the coach wants such a big change, because he’ll have to change the whole system of how he wants to play.”

Ibrahimovic, who is now turning out in MLS with the LA Galaxy, has stated on a regular basis that he will be part of the Sweden side if he wants to be.

He reiterated that stance during an interview with Jimmy Kimmel on American television, saying: “I just said I’m going to the World Cup.

“If I say more, people will hang me, so I have to be careful what I say now.

“A World Cup without me wouldn’t be a World Cup.”

– Omni

‘Ultimately, I don’t think I was ready to go into Tottenham’s first team’

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