Football

Jamie Carragher Pays Glowing Tribute To "Box Office" Zlatan Ibrahimovic

Jamie Carragher Pays Glowing Tribute To "Box Office" Zlatan Ibrahimovic

While most Manchester United fans are still struggling to comprehend Graeme Souness' combined Man Utd/Liverpool XI, another former Anfield legend has gone the opposite way and come up with something that they will be absolutely delighted to read.

In his regular column for the Daily Mail, Jamie Carragher focused on Zlatan Ibrahimovic and waxed lyrical about how the big Swede has proven all of his doubters, including Carragher himself, wrong.

After describing how he was unimpressed having played against Zlatan over his career, as well as a cracking anecdote about the Man Utd striker turning Stephane Henchoz inside-out as a youngster, Carragher heaped praise on Ibrahimovic who he described as a "box office" player with the swagger of Eric Cantona.

Really, he has been special all the way through his career. You don't plunder the amount of goals he did in France for Paris Saint-Germain aged 34 if you are not special — he outscored Cristiano Ronaldo (50-42) in 2016 — and it's a shame it has taken us so long to appreciate him.

I look at him now and wish he had been in the Premier League as a 27-year-old in his peak.

He is box office, a 6ft 4in powerhouse with the balance of a No 10. He is a Manchester United player in every sense, with a swagger reminiscent of Eric Cantona. There is a new king in town.

Yet for all that brooding and self-belief, he has the same insecurities as all footballers and Thierry Henry told me that Zlatan used to ask: 'What have they said about me?' when he knew he had been discussed on television.

When United signed him, I knew he would be a good addition but I never foresaw it being for more than 12 months. I never expected he and Wayne Rooney would become a partnership and it is testament to his professionalism that United are already prepared to activate the second year of his contract.

Safe to say Carra is convinced.

The former Liverpool man is seemingly universally respected for his unbiased views, if anything he's harsher on Liverpool than all other clubs, but he ended his piece on Ibrahimovic by claiming that he's concerned about what he might get up to in Sunday's big match.

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Before Christmas, I described Zlatan as being the best signing of 2016. He has won 29 major honours in his career and, the way he is performing, you can see him taking that figure beyond 30 before his time in Manchester is over.

Yet his immediate target is Liverpool. Now when I sit down to watch him I understand what all the fuss is about. Now, unlike in 2001, I'm worried about everything he can do.

Should Diego Costa indeed leave for China as it appears he will following tonight's news, then Ibrahimovic will become the favourite in the race for top-scorer.

His personality has been a massive hit with the Manchester United players, he's produced the goods on the pitch, and he's got the English media fawning over him by January.

Safe to say his free transfer was a good bit of business by Manchester United.

[via Daily Mail]

Mikey Traynor

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