Zlatan Ibrahimovic is "enjoying the adventure" of Anthony Elanga's development, as the pair prepare to team up for Sweden in this month's World Cup qualifiers.

The veteran Milan striker and young Manchester United forward could both come into play for Janne Andersson's side in their play-off campaign in UEFA qualifying for Qatar 2022.

Sweden face the Czech Republic and, if victorious, will play Poland for a spot at this year's tournament, though Ibrahimovic is suspended for the first encounter.

Even if he is restricted to a spectator role, the attacker is looking forward to seeing his compatriot in action, sharing memories of their first meeting when together at Old Trafford.

"We're all happy and we're enjoying the adventure he is on," Ibrahimovic said.

"He just started and he's on the way up so it's good. You will have something to watch for another 20 years,

"First time I met him, we were in the restaurant in the [United] training ground. He came up to me and he said, 'you know my father'.

"I was like, help me now because I don't know who I'm talking to. 'You played with my father Elanga', and then everything clicked and I said 'OK'.

"It made me happy because I wasn't the only Swedish one in Manchester, we had another Swedish player.

Ibrahimovic played alongside Elanga's father Joseph, a former Cameroon international, during his formative years at Malmo in his home country.

Elanga was born in Malmo in 2002. The United winger would have been eligible to play for Cameroon and England, in addition to Sweden, but opted for the Blue and Yellow after representing them at youth level.

 

Milan and Sweden striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic fears the thought of retiring and says he may "disappear completely" once his playing career comes to an end.

Ibrahimovic turned 40 in October but remains a key part of Milan's squad and is reportedly in talks over signing a new contract beyond the end of this season.

The former Barcelona, Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester United star has struggled with injuries this term, yet he has still featured 22 times in all competitions for Milan.

As well as helping to steer Milan to a first Scudetto since 2011, Ibrahimovic is also hoping to help Sweden to the 2022 World Cup after reversing his retirement decision last year.

And while he is still being called upon for club and country, Ibrahimovic does not intend to hang up his boots.

"I have this fear about retirement: what will happen next? I know I will have other possibilities and offers," he said at a news conference on Tuesday while away on Sweden duty.

"But this adrenaline I feel on the pitch, I know I won't find that anywhere else. That's why I'm having this panic. I'll carry on as much as possible and just enjoy it.

"We'll see when the time comes. I could take a break or disappear completely.

"We are programmed to wake up, train, go home and rest. This goes on for 20-25 years, but one day I'll wake up and have nothing planned. That will be a strange feeling."

 

Ibrahimovic is suspended for Sweden's World Cup qualifying play-off tie against the Czech Republic, but he will be available for the final against Poland should his side advance.

Sweden have called up Manchester United youngster Anthony Elanga for the first time, a player who is 21 years younger than Ibrahimovic.

But while hopes are high for Elanga and what he can bring to the national team, Ibrahimovic joked his country will not come close to replacing him once he retires for good.

Sat alongside new team-mate Elanga, Ibrahimovic said: "Enjoy it while I'm on the pitch, because you won't see anything like it again.

"You'll see Elanga, I say that with all due respect, but you won't see Ibrahimovic any more, so enjoy while you can."

As well as representing Milan, Barca, PSG and United, Ibrahimovic has also played for Malmo, Ajax, Juventus, Inter and Los Angeles Galaxy across a 23-year career.

Milan head coach Stefano Pioli wants to "write a new page of history" as the Rossoneri chase a first Scudetto in 11 years.

Pioli's side sit three points clear at the Serie A summit after edging past Cagliari 1-0 on Saturday, their third consecutive victory by that scoreline.

Fellow title contenders Napoli and Inter remain in close company, with Luciano Spalletti's team three points back and the defending champions six adrift, albeit with a game in hand.

Massimiliano Allegri's Juventus are also just seven behind the league leaders as Milan nudge towards a first Serie A title since the 2010-11 campaign.

While his players continue to deliver on the pitch, Pioli was keen to credit his relationship with the club's former centre-back and current technical director Paolo Maldini as the pair look to lay their marker on Italian football.

"I'm lucky to talk to him daily, he's an indispensable point of reference," Pioli said at the Expo 2020 in United Arab Emirates, which he is attending with Milan's academy. 

"I've always said that I’ve been lucky enough to coach a great group, players who perfectly embody the values of this club. Together, we are trying to write a new page in history.

"After just a few days at Milan, I felt something that I'd never felt anywhere else, I felt immediately at home. That's what Milan is for me: home. Pressure is part of my job, but it is also motivating because it reminds me that I can always do better.

"During a journey there may be moments when you slow down, but the important thing is to keep going and never stop.

"Our goal is to make our fans happy. That is why we play. We are fortunate to have extraordinary supporters and we will never stop thanking them because their passion has always been contagious."

Veteran duo Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Olivier Giroud have been integral both off and on the pitch for Milan, and Pioli heaped praise on the pair for their influence this season.

"Milan needs everyone. Zlatan and Olivier know what it means to win and the sacrifices needed to achieve great results. I think this team has great potential," he added.

"We've never ruled out anything, but this is my current opinion, let's collect more points than last season, let's play every game as if it were absolutely decisive and then see where we end up."

Milan will look to continue their title charge after the international break when they host Bologna on Monday, April 4.

Milan head coach Stefano Pioli insisted that his side cannot be "obsessed with the past" as they battle to win Serie A, which no team has "managed to run away".

The Rossoneri climbed back to the summit with a 1-0 victory at fellow title contenders Napoli last time out, but could be leapfrogged by second-placed Inter, who have a game in hand.

Milan next host Empoli, who they have won their past two top-flight meetings against, and Pioli demanded his team take each game as it comes ahead of the clash on Saturday.

However, Pioli's men have won only two of their past six Serie A meetings with sides in the bottom half of the table, drawing their previous two against Salernitana and Udinese.

"We are satisfied, but it was not the final step," Pioli said of the win over Napoli at Friday's pre-match news conference. "The last step is the next game.

"We should not be obsessed with the past, every game is different. We must play with continuity, quality and rhythm to highlight our qualities.

"It's been a strange season. Nobody has managed to run away. I still think that the top five teams can win many games. Serie A is very difficult."

 

When asked if he was concerned about the run of Juventus, who are unbeaten in 14 Serie A games and sit just seven adrift of the leaders, Pioli responded: "I am concerned about Empoli, we saw what happened in the reverse fixture, they created problems for us, so we must play well.

"Players don't need my intervention to know how important tomorrow's game is. The experience of the past was useful, but we should not look back.

"Empoli are a dynamic squad. It's not easy to press them, we need to understand the right moment. Psychologically, we know which problems we'll face, but we are determined.

"Empoli are a team with many solutions up top. They have quality and are really close to reaching their target so compliments to them."

Olivier Giroud was the difference against Napoli, with his eighth league goal separating the two title challengers. The striker will now be aiming to become the third Frenchman in Serie A to score 10-plus goals in a single campaign for Milan, after Jean-Pierre Papin (13 goals in 1992/93) and Jeremy Menez (16 in 2014/15).

Pioli was also boosted by the return of the evergreen Zlatan Ibrahimovic against Luciano Spalletti's men and he spoke glowingly of his two veteran forwards.

"I like everything about Giroud, the way he helps the team, how he handles the pressure," he added. "He is a very serene and determined person and it's a pleasure to work with him.

"Zlatan gives a lot to the team in everything he does. He is a smart player. He knows when to attack the space or drop deep. He is feeling happy. Surely he will help us."

Kylian Mbappe moved beyond Zlatan Ibrahimovic to go second outright on the list of Paris Saint-Germain's leading all-time goalscorers when he struck against Real Madrid on Wednesday.

The France striker took his tally to 157 with a cool finish in the second leg of PSG's Champions League last-16 clash against Los Blancos. 

It was the prolific 23-year-old's 25th goal of the season in all competitions and means he has bettered Ibrahimovic's haul of 156 during his time in the French capital.

Edinson Cavani is the only player to have scored more goals for PSG, the Uruguay international finding the back of the net 200 times.

Mbappe has now netted 44 goals for the club in the Champions League, as well as 105 in Ligue 1, with the remainder coming in domestic cup competitions.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic could make a timely return from injury when Milan face fellow Serie A title contenders Napoli on Sunday.

The talismanic striker has been sidelined since damaging his Achilles in a goalless draw with Juventus on January 23.

Rossoneri head coach Stefano Pioli on Saturday revealed Ibrahimovic could feature in a huge battle between second and third at Stadio Diego Armando Maradona, where Ante Rebic could also have a part to play.

Pioli told reporters: "Ibrahimovic is doing better. He trained with the group both yesterday [Friday] and today and will probably travel with us tomorrow.

"Rebic is doing fine physically and getting back to optimum condition. He needs to make the most of his opportunities.

"I think it'll be important to start with the best team possible but also bring on players who can stop our opponents from having reference points and can have a positive impact on the game. I've already decided tomorrow's starting line-up."

Milan have drawn three consecutive matches in all competitions and are level on points with second-placed Napoli, just a point behind leaders Inter.

They have won only one of their past 14 Serie A meetings with Napoli – that victory coming in November 2020 – and have lost the previous two encounters 1-0.

Pioli says his side must be resolute when they do battle with Luciano Spalletti's men.

He said: "Napoli are a great team and coached very well by Spalletti, but teams without weaknesses don't exist.

"They have the best defence in the league, they pass it well and are good in behind. Tomorrow, the team that defends better has more chance of winning.

"The environment we'll be playing in is something else to factor in when it comes to our preparations and the match: it'll be fantastic and exciting for both teams.

"The fact we’ve done well against the top sides is a sign of our strength and should give us confidence heading into tomorrow night's game.

"From now until May 22, 33 points are up for grabs. It'll be a rollercoaster that no one wants to get off. It'll be difficult for any side to be really consistent, but we need to stay focused and play to the best of our abilities."

Zlatan Ibrahimovic has vowed he will not call quits on his career until he has "won something with this Milan side".

The Sweden international celebrated Scudetto success in 2011 with Milan and lifted the Supercoppa Italiana the following season, but Stefano Pioli's side are yet to lift a trophy since the striker returned in 2019.

The Rossoneri sit second in Serie A this campaign, having been displaced by Napoli – who required a last-gasp winner to defeat Lazio on Sunday – following a disappointing 1-1 draw at home to strugglers Udinese.

Pioli's team are also still in contention for the Coppa Italia as they face neighbours Inter across a two-legged semi-final tie, the first leg of which comes on Tuesday.

Ibrahimovic, who has been sidelined with an Achilles injury sustained against Juventus on January 23, insists he will not retire until he has won something with the current Milan outfit.

"My future is football, my world is football," Ibrahimovic told reporters.

"I am disappointed that I am not able to play at the moment, this really pains me, especially when the team is doing well. 

"I want to be there and help the team. We've done great things since I arrived, and now we are only missing one element: a trophy.

"We are fighting to achieve this, I won't quit until I have won something with this Milan side."

Ibrahimovic penned a one-year extension at Milan last April to keep him at the club until the end of the season.

The 40-year-old has not featured in over a month but has eight goals in all competitions this season, with no Milan player scoring at a greater rate than his average of one every 133 minutes.

Milan, without Ibrahimovic, will look to get back to winning ways in the league when they visit fellow title contenders Napoli on Sunday after their Coppa Italia clash with Inter.

Stefano Pioli believes Zlatan Ibrahimovic has the desire to help Milan beyond the end of this season, although his future still is not settled and the forward's immediate focus is on aiding the Rossoneri's 2021-22 title bid.

Ibrahimovic signed a one-year contract extension in April last year, meaning his Milan deal is again up in June.

And the superstar forward, who is now 40, is increasingly struggling for fitness, even if his goalscoring form has not deserted him.

Ibrahimovic has eight goals in all competitions this season, with no Milan player scoring at a greater rate than his average of one every 133 minutes.

However, Ibrahimovic has been limited to 12 starts and has not featured in over a month since injuring his Achilles tendon against Juventus.

Milan coach Pioli was asked for an update on both the striker's future and fitness before Friday's match against Udinese and offered a mixed response, with his recovery not as rapid as anticipated.

"[His future] would be a question for Zlatan," the league-leading coach told a news conference. "His will is very important.

"As I know him, for the determination he has, for the ambition he has and for the desire he has to help the team, I am convinced that he would want to continue playing.

"His condition is improving, albeit a little slower than we expected, but he is better.

"His path is day by day – you have to understand how the tendon responds when he starts to run. Between today and tomorrow he will return to running on the grass; in these days he has done individual work and ran on the sand."

Milan head coach Stefano Pioli is confident his side can handle the pressure of being top of Serie A but concedes their "table position is not correct".

After beating Inter a fortnight ago, the Rossoneri capitalised on the Nerazzurri's 1-1 draw with Napoli last weekend, moving into top spot with a 1-0 home win over Sampdoria.

Milan and Napoli had set the early pace before Inter surged into the lead in Serie A prior to the winter break, with the Rossoneri returning to the summit by one point having played one game more than their city rivals.

"The league table is not correct, because Inter and Atalanta have to recover their matches," Pioli told a news conference prior to Saturday's league game with Salernitana.

"We are focused on us. The pressures are there and it is a privilege to have them, it means that we have risen up the level and it means that the team can handle them too.

"In my players I see a lot of positivity, a lot of confidence and concentration. We know that the season is long and that we have to push hard. For us tomorrow is a very important match, not a secondary one.

"We just have to think about giving our best and the best. We need great conviction in the things we do by giving our best."

Veteran Milan forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic has not played since picking up a knock in the January 24 draw with Juventus but hinted he was close to returning on Italian radio. Pioli, however, downplayed his chances of facing Salernitana as continues to battle a niggling Achilles issue.

"He is certainly better, if not tomorrow or Sunday he will start running again and then we will evaluate his condition," he said.

"We do not yet know when he will be able to re-join the group."

Pioli added that Croatian forward Ante Rebic would come into consideration to start against Salernitana after recently returning off the bench from an ankle injury.

"He is better. The minutes with Sampdoria helped him, he entered well even if he missed the winning play," he said.

"He is a very important player for us and he will give us his contribution."

Stefano Pioli says Zlatan Ibrahimovic is like "a lion in a cage" in his quest to return from injury, but revealed he will not be available for Milan's Coppa Italia quarter-final showdown with Lazio.

His side's top scorer in Serie A this season with eight goals, Ibrahimovic is currently sidelined with an Achilles tendon injury, having limped off during the first half of last month's stalemate with Juventus.

The 40-year-old's absence was evident for most of last weekend's derby with Inter; the Rossoneri registering just one shot on goal until Olivier Giroud's quickfire double completed a dramatic turnaround.

Milan welcome Lazio to San Siro in the last eight of the Coppa Italia on Wednesday, although it comes too soon for Ibrahimovic.

But Pioli insists the striker is doing everything in his power to return as soon as possible.

"Zlatan is a lion in a cage," he told Sportmediaset. "His motivation is to help the team on the pitch. 

"Tomorrow, he won't be [available]; we'll see for the next ones."

Pioli also praised the contribution of Giroud, who has drawn criticism from some sections despite taking his tally to seven for the campaign with that derby brace, while also becoming the first Frenchman to net twice against Inter in Serie A.

When asked whether his display against the Nerazzurri deflected the criticism, the head coach said: "I don't know, the detractors are always there. What matters is the trust we have. 

"He is proving to be the footballer for whom he was purchased. [He is] a valuable player and a person of great depth who is making a great contribution to the team."

 

As Serie A returns this weekend, the standout fixture is the Milan derby. And this isn't just any Milan derby.

Champions Inter are setting the pace, with 16 wins and just one defeat in 22 games. They are the top scorers in the division, with 53; they have the most points, with 53. The league's second-best goalscorers are their city rivals, who are only four points behind, albeit having played a game more.

With Juventus having slipped from their perch, Milan and Inter have become Italy's trendsetters once more. They are the leading exponents of Serie A's modern trend: that of shunning catenaccio in favour of front-foot, attacking football. And, with all due respect to second-place Napoli, they are undoubtedly the favourites to occupy the top two places come the end of the season.

All this means Saturday's clash at San Siro should be one to savour...

 

'BORING, BORING SERIE A...'

Matchday 21 of Serie A saw 39 goals scored across only 10 matches. In Europe's top five leagues in 2021-22, only matchday 14 of the Bundesliga (41 goals) and matchday nine of the Premier League (40) produced more goals across a set of fixtures.

That was no aberration, either. Of the 10 highest-scoring matchdays in Europe's big five leagues this term, five have come from Italy. Indeed, Serie A has been averaging over three goals a game for the past three seasons, a rate last seen 70 years ago.

It follows that the two teams best embracing that trend are competing for the Scudetto. Not only have Inter (53) and Milan (47) scored the most Serie A goals in 2021-22, but they have embraced a style that lends itself to creating as many opportunities as possible.

Milan (eight) and Inter (seven) are the teams with the most goals after an open-play sequence of 10 or more passes. When it comes to open-play shots, the Nerazzurri are second (274) and the Rossoneri fourth (265) in the division.

Interestingly, while Inter are top for expected goals (excluding penalties) with 40.9, Milan are down in eighth on 31.3. That means Stefano Pioli's men are outperforming their non-penalty xG total by almost 11 goals (when own goals are included), a tally bettered only by Lazio (16.6). There's a ruthlessness about them this season that's keeping them on Inter's coattails.

 

RELEASE THE HAKAN

Speaking of ruthless... boy, would Zlatan love to be involved in this.

A Scudetto winner with each club, Zlatan Ibrahimovic has great history in this fixture, with eight goals in league derbies (six for Milan and two for Inter). In the history of the fixture, only Giuseppe Meazza (12), Gunnar Nordahl (11) and Stefano Nyers (11) have scored more.

The 40-year-old scored twice in Milan's 2-1 derby victory in October 2020, the only one of the past 11 in the league in which the Rossoneri have come out on top. Unfortunately for them, injury has denied Ibrahimovic the chance of dealing further damage to his old employers.

Instead, the sub-plot burden falls on Hakan Calhanoglu, who made an acrimonious free transfer to Inter from Milan at the end of last season. His 32 goals and 42 assists in 174 appearances for Milan – he was top of the charts for both in his time at the club – made his move particularly painful to bear for supporters.

It was Calhanoglu who scored Inter's goal in the 1-1 draw in the reverse fixture this season, meaning Milan could become the third side, after Chievo and Fiorentina, against whom the Turkey star has scored in his first two Serie A meetings.

Among Serie A midfielders this season, only Antonio Candreva (59) has created more chances than Calhanoglu (50), while his 13 direct goal involvements are second only to Sergej Milinkovic-Savic (15). Not that Milan needed any reminders about his threat.

 

DERBY DAZE

Inter have won more games (67) and scored more goals (247) against Milan than any other team in Serie A history. They are also enjoying a run of six wins and only one defeat in the past 11 derbies, in which time their rivals have kept just a single clean sheet.

Since that loss to Milan in October 2020, Simone Inzaghi's side have gone 28 home league matches without defeat. This is their longest such run in the competition since a 46-match streak between April 2008 and November 2010, which was ended by a defeat in the derby courtesy of a goal from, yep, Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

Form, as well as recent history, is on Inter's side. Since the beginning of last season, they have lost only four of 60 Serie A matches – fewer than half the number of any other team (Atalanta are next best, with nine). In a league table of that time frame, Inter would sit top on 144 points, 16 clear of Milan in second.

 

HALF-MEASURES

Each of these teams is averaging more than two goals per game this season, they have both scored in 21 different league matches and they have each won by two goals on six different occasions. Again, it's safe to expect some attacking football.

If you want specifics, we would suggest not going anywhere midway through the first half. The average times at which Inter and Milan have scored and conceded the first goal in a game this season are between the 27th and 38th minutes. Best wait until the break before grabbing that espresso.

Olivier Giroud is enjoying his "healthy competition" with Zlatan Ibrahimovic and says his Milan team-mate is pushing him to become a better player.

Ibrahimovic has made a big impact in his second spell with Milan since returning to the club in January 2020, scoring 36 goals in 66 appearances in all competitions.

That includes a return of 33 goals in 52 Serie A outings, which is the eighth-most of any player in the division over that period.

He has been restricted to just 12 starts in all competitions this campaign, but he has again proved his worth by finding the net eight times.

With his strike against Udinese in December, Ibrahimovic joined Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo in scoring 300 career league goals across Europe's top five divisions.

Amid reports in Italy that Milan are prepared to offer him another contract until the end of next season, Giroud is grateful he has the chance to learn from the 40-year-old.

"Playing with him is something I see as a challenge, something that pushes me every day," Giroud told the Colinterview - Oh my Goal YouTube channel. 

"It's an opportunity to have him as my partner, to learn something more. 

"He's an example for many strikers and when I was young I loved him, both on the pitch and for his strong character, and for the fact that he's demanding every day. 

"It's a healthy competition between us."

 

Giroud has made a steady enough start to life at San Siro after joining from Chelsea last July with six goals and one assist in his first 20 appearances, 11 of those being starts.

Those six goals have come at a rate of 0.46 per 90 minutes, a tally bettered only by Ibrahimovic (0.67) among Milan players.

The former Chelsea striker has spent various spells on the sidelines through injury and illness but now feels ready to start contributing more as Milan target a Scudetto success.

"I had some unusual physical problems. I got COVID in September after what was a good start, and then I had back problems," he said. 

"I forced it too hard and got hurt after testing negative. I was in the squad for Liverpool, played and got hurt. The pain lasted six weeks and I didn't play for a while. 

"After that, I had ankle and ischium problems for a month. In the meantime, I did everything to keep fit, I took all preventive measures.

"But now I feel very good and have the possibility to play without pain. That is a luxury when you are a professional player and above all, when you're 35."

Milan boss Stefano Pioli believes failure to beat Inter in their next Serie A game will end their title chances and leave them to battle for a Champions League qualification spot instead.

The Rossoneri ended the weekend four points adrift of leaders Inter having played a game more after a dire 0-0 draw with Juventus at San Siro.

It marked the first goalless draw between the two giants in the Italian top flight since December 2007.

Milan face their neighbours on February 5, with Pioli suggesting anything less than a win will be fatal to their Scudetto hopes.

"We knew the games against Juventus and Inter would say a great deal about our future," he told DAZN.

"If we don't beat Inter, then our campaign will be very similar to last season, when we won at the end to go second and risked crashing out of the Champions League places.

"We have our way of playing and must realise that if we want to achieve something extraordinary again, we need to give everything. I saw many individual performances of a very high level today.

"We had the right performance for our circumstances and the opposition, but were lacking precision in the penalty area.

"We tried to be dangerous and limited Juventus to no chances. I don't think it was a tactical issue, as we had players in the box, but got the final ball wrong.

"The state of the pitch didn't help either, as we had some bad first touches, had to take extra touches to get it under control and that slowed us down."

Indeed, Zlatan Ibrahimovic's first-half withdrawal through injury was caused by the state of the pitch, Pioli confirmed.

"Ibra felt pain in the Achilles tendon," he added. "He blamed the pitch, which was very hard, so we hope he can recover over the next few days."

Milan's Pierre Kalulu was part of a defence that did not allow Juve a single shot on target and the 21-year-old wants to see an improvement in attack.

"It's a positive statistic for everyone in the team and not just for us defenders," he told Milan TV. "We did well and must continue like this.

"It's an important game for us and for the fans. Compared to tonight, we need to do better up front if we are to bring home the three points."

Milan lost further ground to Inter in the Serie A title race after they were held to an insipid 0-0 draw by Juventus at San Siro.

Stefano Pioli's side suffered a damaging 2-1 home defeat to Spezia on Monday and a return to winning ways never looked likely against an unambitious Bianconeri outfit, who failed to register a single shot on target.

The hosts' woes were compounded when Zlatan Ibrahimovic hobbled off in the first half, with neither set of players stepping up after that to prevent Milan and Juve drawing both their games in a single Serie A campaign for the first time since the 1991-92 season.

The stalemate meant Milan ended the weekend in third place, four points adrift of leaders Inter having played a game more, while Juve remained in fifth.

Milan did most of the pressing in the early stages, with their best effort coming in the 20th minute when Wojciech Szczesny got down well to paw away Rafael Leao's strike from the edge of the penalty area.

They suffered a blow shortly after the midway point in the first half when Ibrahimovic sustained an injury and was replaced by Olivier Giroud, the France international largely toiling in attack before the interval.

The former Chelsea striker saw a header kept out by Szczesny in the 70th minute – one of very few chances in a miserable second half. 

Juve appeared content to settle for a point for much of the match, with Massimiliano Allegri stretching his unbeaten run against Pioli as a coach in Serie A to a whopping 16 games - with 11 wins and five draws.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic has revealed he urged Kylian Mbappe to leave his comfort zone and join Real Madrid after being approached for advice by the Paris Saint-Germain forward. 

Mbappe was the subject of two big-money bids from Madrid in the last transfer window and recently revealed he asked PSG to grant him a move away.

The France international is out of contract at the end of the season and continues to be linked with a free transfer to the Santiago Bernabeu.

He has spent five seasons with PSG, the first of those on an initial loan from fellow Ligue 1 side Monaco, whom he represented for two campaigns.

More than six years after bursting onto the scene, former PSG striker Ibrahimovic believes it is time for Mbappe to test himself in a new league.

"Only Kylian can answer you about where he has to go. It depends on what he wants, what he thinks," Ibrahimovic told L'Equipe.

"Me, I would have gone. But if I am PSG, I would try to keep him. It's him who will decide. PSG want to keep him, obviously, but does he want to stay?

"I also think that there are other clubs that want him: if you are a manager, and you have the means and you do not want to take Mbappe, you are in the wrong business. 

"He asked me [for advice], yes, and I told him: 'If I were you, I would go to Real'.

"I had the chance to play in different teams, different countries, with different champions, and that's how I learned and grew. 

"Playing at home all your career is easier, in my opinion. Whereas if you pack your bags and go to other places, it's an adventure."

Ibrahimovic himself spent four seasons with PSG and scored 156 goals, a tally bettered only by Edinson Cavani (200) in the club's list of all-time goalscorers.

Mbappe is fast closing in on Ibrahimovic in that regard as he has 151 goals in 198 appearances for the Parisians in all competitions since his debut in September 2017.

That is the fourth-most of any player from Europe's top five leagues across that period, behind Cristiano Ronaldo (158), Lionel Messi (168) and Robert Lewandowski (212).

 

While Mbappe is a guaranteed starter for PSG when available, goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma has struggled to hold down a place in the side since joining from Milan.

Donnarumma played a key part in Italy's Euro 2020 triumph and impressed across six years at San Siro, but he has had to share goalkeeping duties with Keylor Navas this term.

That has come as a shock to Milan striker Ibrahimovic, who spent two and a half years playing in the same side as the Italian stopper.

"I am very surprised. But I know it's not easy for the coach, and I know Navas is a great goalkeeper too," he said.

"They have two phenomena in goal. In my world, Donnarumma is the number one today.

"I don't know if it's good to alternate goalkeepers, or if it's more of a favour you do to one of them. I'm used to having a goalkeeper who is number one and is always the same. 

"And about Donnarumma there is no question: he is the best in the world, and that's that. I played with him, I know what I'm talking about."

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