Sweden would consider Ibrahimovic return

Sweden coach Janne Andersson says he is willing to discuss the return of Zlatan Ibrahimovic to the national team.

Ibrahimovic, 39, retired from international duty in 2016 as Sweden’s all-time leading scorer with 62 goals in 116 games. The AC Milan forward revealed on Tuesday that he is open to the idea of returning to the national team provided Andersson makes the first move.

Ibrahimovic said: “If [Andersson] called me, I would answer. I would tell him to give me time. I have to think about it. But it has to come from him. If he thinks I’m too big, I’m not interested. If he believes I can bring something [to the group], then I would think about it.”

The former Manchester United and LA Galaxy forward told Swedish fans that he “misses” playing for the national team. Ibrahimovic and Andersson’s relationship has been strained since the veteran striker, who is of Bosnian and Croat descent, claimed last year that the Sweden coach had overlooked the country’s players who were of immigrant origin in his first call-up since becoming national team manager.

Andersson believes Ibrahimovic has now taken a positive step by speaking publicly about wanting to play again for Sweden.

“This makes it only natural that we have some form of contact to discuss the issue in detail,” Andersson said on Wednesday. “The next national team selection will be in March, so there is time.”

Earlier this month, Ibrahimovic, who is Serie A’s current leading scorer with 10 goals, hinted at a possible return to the national team when he posted an image of himself on Twitter wearing the Sweden jersey with the caption: “Long time no see.”

“I want to be in the Friends Arena,” Ibrahimovic said in reference to Sweden’s national stadium. “I want to see the full Yellow Wall when I walk into the field in the yellow jersey. Do I miss it? Of course: if someone doesn’t miss it all, it means that he has ended his career. And I’m not done yet.”

Ibrahimovic is in his second stint at AC Milan and showing no signs of slowing down.

He won his 12th Golden Ball as Sweden’s Player of the Year on Tuesday and said: “What I repeat all the time is that I train very hard. I prepare myself very, very well. In my athletic program I am very professional. I dedicate as much time as possible to physical fitness and it is mainly my head.”

Sweden have qualified for next year’s European Championship.

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