Zlatan Ibrahimovic makes Sanremo festival debut: I have been the best on this stage

By Sports Desk March 02, 2021

Zlatan Ibrahimovic declared "I have been the best on this stage" as the Milan star made his controversial debut at the Sanremo festival.

Ibrahimovic has been criticised for attending the music event, which spans four days, while Milan fight for the Serie A title.

It also comes as the 39-year-old forward nurses an injury, forcing him to miss Wednesday's clash against Udinese at San Siro after exiting Sunday's win away to Roma.

But Ibrahimovic looked comfortable on Tuesday, stepping out on stage as co-presenter while joking with fellow presenter Amadeus.

"It is an honour to be here, but also an honour for you to have me here," Milan's top goalscorer Ibrahimovic told Amadeus.

"Normally I feel big, powerful, but here I feel small. Still bigger and more powerful than you, though."

Ibrahimovic added: "First of all, there will be 22 singers in the competition, 11 against 11, otherwise it's not right.

"Seeing as there are 26, sell four of the singers, I hear Liverpool are looking for players. If not, put them in the garden and I'll get them working.

"The second rule is about the stage. It's too small, made for small people like you. I need the stage to be 105 metres by 68 metres, like the pitch at San Siro.

"No stress, don't worry, as long as Zlatan is here, everything will be fine. Zlatan's Festival lasts 90 minutes plus stoppages.

"I have been the best on this stage. Not just tonight, but of all time."

Ibrahimovic has scored 14 Serie A goals this season – only Juventus superstar Cristiano Ronaldo (19) and Romelu Lukaku (18) have managed more – as Milan sit second in the table, four points behind leaders Inter.

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    When FIFA last year announced they were set to introduce limits on the number of players teams could send out on loan, unsurprisingly many people's first thoughts turned to Chelsea.

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    The Blues suffered a rather harsh 4-0 defeat at Manchester United, but Mount didn't look out of his depth in the Premier League, playing four key passes over the course of the match.

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    A star of his own merit

    When Thomas Tuchel was hired as Lampard's replacement in January, there wouldn't have been too many particularly worried for Mount's future given he had been a fixture in the team.

    But when Mount was dropped for the German's first game in charge, Tuchel's decision certainly made people sit up and take note.

    While he explained it away as opting to go with experience, dropping Mount suggested for arguably the first time since his return from Derby that he had a fight on his hands.

    But it would be fair to say he's risen to the challenge.

    "I understood and wanted to get back into the team, so that motivation and that fire that I have inside me came out," Mount said at a news conference last month. "I really tried to push to get back into the team. It's been brilliant."

    Since then, he's become more productive almost across the board in the final third under Tuchel than he had been for Lampard in 2020-21.

     

    Seemingly one of the main contributing factors is his role. While Lampard used Mount in numerous positions, Tuchel has largely deployed him further up the pitch in an attempt to get him closer to the opposition's penalty area – activity maps show a significant change between the two coaches' usage of the 21-year-old.

    Not only is he involved in passing moves more often as a result, he's contributing to sequences that end in a shot with greater frequency as well. His 72 (7.8 per 90 minutes) during Tuchel's 12 Premier League matches is the second highest in the division since the German's appointment, while his 96 (5.6 per 90 minutes) involvements in Lampard's 18 top-flight games this term was the eighth most.

    The expected goals value from these sequences has increased too, going from 0.43 to 0.65 per 90 minutes, meaning Chelsea are creating greater quality chances with Mount further up the pitch.

    Furthermore, there's been a considerable improvement in his own productivity. While his chance creation record in the past may have been skewed by set-pieces, he's moved up the rankings in terms of open-play key passes per 90 minutes. With 1.5 each game, only 12 others have done better than Mount since Tuchel's arrival – beforehand, his 1.2 per 90 minutes had him 43rd in those rankings.

     

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