The Daily Express suggest that Manchester United may be interested in signing Paris St. Germain striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
The 33 year old legendary Swede striker has developed a reputation for winning the league wherever he goes and has done so in the last three years in France.
Betfair have responded to that story and United manager Louis van Gaal’s noncommittal answer about who the mystery striker he is interested in could be by slashing the price from 20/1 to 5/1 on it being Ibrahimovic.
Betfair trader Michael Bowers said ‘Louis van Gaal has been making his intentions very clear this transfer window, doing whatever it takes to get the players he wants and now it looks like he could be making a move to poach Zlatan from the grasps of frontrunners AC Milan. Milan have been the short price favourites being backed as low as 1/2 to sign the 33-year-old, but after a flurry of bets this morning United are now closing the gap and are 5/1 second favourites, with bets still coming in.’
Before you get too excited, remember a few things.
Zlatan described Louis van Gaal as a ‘pompous arse’ in his autobiography. In an interview with Sports Illustrated he expanded.
‘Many big stars have problems with him because of the way he is. I understand if you’re 15 to 20 years old, you put the discipline there. Which is normal, because I was in Holland, I was in that school where he built up Ajax. And I understand it, but when you come to a team with 22 big stars, that’s what you treat them like? Like small boys?’ Ibrahimovic said. ‘We were in a dining room and sitting there until he says, “Ok, go ahead, now you can eat.” Then suddenly we could eat. So we could not eat before he says.’
Then, of course, there is this excerpt also from his autobiography.
We headed to a training camp in Portugal and, by that time Beenhakker had resigned as director and was replaced by Louis van Gaal. Van Gaal was a pompous ass. He was a little like Co Adriaanse. He wanted to be a dictator, without a hint of a gleam in his eye. As a player, he’d never stood out, but he was revered in the Netherlands because, as a manager, he’d won the Champions League with Ajax and received some medal from the government.
Van Gaal liked to talk about playing systems.
He was one of those in the club who referred to the players as numbers. There was a lot of Five goes here and Six goes there, and I was glad when I could avoid him. In Portugal, I couldn’t escape. I had to go in for a meeting with van Gaal and Koeman and listen to how they viewed my contribution in the first half of the season. It was like a performance review with grades, the kind of thing they loved at Ajax. I went into an office there and sat down in front of van Gaal and Ronald Koeman. Koeman smiled. Van Gaal looked sullen.
“Zlatan,” said Koeman, “you’ve played brilliantly, but you’re only getting an eight. You haven’t worked hard enough at the back.”
“Okay, fine,” I said, wanting to leave.
I liked Koeman, but couldn’t cope with van Gaal, and I thought, Great, an eight will do me. Can I have a break now?
“Do you know how to play in defence?” Van Gaal was sticking his oar in, and I could see that Koeman was getting annoyed too.
“I hope so,” I replied.
Then van Gaal started to explain, and, believe me, I’d heard it all before. It was the same old stuff about how Nine—that is, me— defends to the right, while Ten goes to the left, and vice versa, and he drew a bunch of arrows and finished with a really harsh “Do you understand? Do you get all this?,” and I took it as an attack.
“You can wake up any of the players at three in the morning,” I said, “and ask them how to defend and they’ll rattle it off in their sleep: Nine goes here and Ten goes there. We know that stuff, and we know you’re the one who came up with it. But I’ve trained with van Basten, and he thinks otherwise.”
“Van Basten says Number Nine should save his strength for attacking and scoring goals, and, to tell the truth, now I don’t know who I should listen to, van Basten – who’s a legend – or van Gaal?” I said, putting special emphasis on the name van Gaal, as if he were some completely insignificant figure.
And what do you reckon? Was he happy?
He was fuming. Who should I listen to, a legend or van Gaal? “I’ve gotta go now,” I said, and got out of there.
So, if we were betting men (and sometimes we are), we’re not sure that 5/1 seems like an accurate bet. But, then, the truth is often stranger than fiction isn’t it?