Paris St. Germain striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic doesn’t sound quite right. However, the likelihood of the giant Swede swapping continental capitals from Milan to Paris is looking all the more probable after the two sides agreed a fee for the 30-year-old, despite reported interest from Manchester United, Manchester City and, spectacularly, Liverpool. Following the transfer of Thiago Silva to PSG, signing Ibrahimovic will be a massive coup for the Parisian outfit as they continue in their pursuit to dominate Europe.
Ibrahimovic has regularly had his critics, many of whom believe the powerful front-man to be a talentless, over-rated waste of space. Yet, with a career record of 234 goals and 93 assists in 490 games, the Sweden captain is anything but. Up until last season, including the Calciopoli scandal, Ibrahimovic had won every domestic title since 2004 with Ajax, Juventus, Inter Milan, AC Milan and Barcelona. With that in mind, replacing him at the San Siro is going to be a monumental task for head coach Massimiliano Allegri.
However, he can’t be replaced by just anyone, because, to put it simply Zlatan Ibrahimovic isn’t just an everyday striker. His successor needs to possess all the right attributes and personality traits to fill the boots of the powerful front-man, a mountainous task that is going to be no easy feat.
Andy Carroll (Liverpool and England)
The England international was heavily linked with a move to the Rossoneri last week after supremo Silvio Berlusconi’s son, Pier Silvio Berlusconi, admitted he was a fan of the Liverpool striker. Andy Carroll hasn’t necessarily endured a torrid time at Anfield, but the £35m price-tag certainly added to the pressure following his big money move last January.
However, towards the end of last season, Carroll began to find the form that made him such a hit at Newcastle United and convinced Liverpool to spend highly to snare the 23-year-old. His performances warranted a call-up to the England squad for the European Championship, his brilliant header sending the Three Lions 1-0 in the 3-2 win over Sweden.
Yet, recently appointed Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers doesn’t appear to favour the young front-man and is thought to be willing to allow Carroll to leave, at least, on-loan. Newcastle, Tottenham Hotspur and West Ham United have all been linked with a possible move, whilst Mark Hateley, formerly of Milan, has suggested that he make a move to Italy in order to further his game.
Andy Carroll hasn’t necessarily endured a torrid time at Anfield, but the £35m price-tag certainly added to the pressure following his big money move last January.
Mental Factor 4/10
Dimitar Berbatov (Manchester United and Bulgaria)
With Dimitar Berbatov admitting he doesn’t feel loved at Manchester United, the classy Bulgarian is expected to depart Old Trafford this summer. His move to the 12-time Premier League champions in 2008, briefly seeing him break the record as the most expensive British transfer, from Tottenham Hotspur hasn’t worked out as well as it planned for the 31-year-old.
Granted, he may have picked up six trophies during his four years with Manchester United but, his first-team opportunities have been limited to substitute appearances, making 149 appearances since 2008. Finishing joint Premier League top scorer in the 2010/11 season wasn’t enough to convince Sir Alex Ferguson to persist with Berbatov last year.
With the veteran manager opting for Danny Welbeck, Wayne Rooney and Javier Hernandez, Berbatov saw his Manchester United chances limited to just 21 appearances, netting nine times in the process. The former Bulgaria international style of play is very similar to Ibrahimovic, whilst his demeanour and cocky personality have seen him likened to the Sweden star. At just £5m, he could be the perfect replacement for the soon-to-be-PSG star.
Mental factor 7/10
Carlos Tevez (Manchester City and Argentina)
The Manchester City star was heavily linked with a move to Milan in January after falling out of favour with manager Roberto Mancini. Carlos Tevez came back into the first-team fold for the Citizens towards the end of last season and was instrumental in securing their first Premier League title.
Despite declaring his intention to remain at the Etihad Stadium, the Serie A giants have again been linked with a move for the Argentina ace as they look to revamp their aging squad. Whilst not a similar type of front-man to Ibrahimovic, Tevez’s industrial approach and hard-word ethic is something that appeals to Allegri.
Nevertheless, despite his spat with Mancini from September to February, prising him away from the Italian’s grasp will be no easy feat for Milan. Starting alongside compatriot Sergio Aguero, Tevez netted four and assisted two for the former Atletico Madrid ace and the chances of securing him this summer would be considerably lower than it was in January.
Mental factor 8/10
Carlos Tevez came back into the first-team fold for the Citizens towards the end of last season and was instrumental in securing their first Premier League title.
Edin Dzeko (Manchester City and Bosnia and Herzegovina)
Edin Dzeko arrived at Manchester City from Wolfsburg 18 months ago with high expectations, having netted 85 times during his three-and-a-half years with the Bundesliga outfit. However, he failed to make an immediate impact upon his arrival, scoring just six goals in his opening six months for the Citizens.
His first full season with Manchester City started off perfectly for the Bosnia and Herzegovina international after scoring six goals in his three opening league games for the club. Nevertheless, no matter how many goals he scored, Dzeko could never hold down a regular starting spot under Mancini, who often preferred Aguero and Mario Balotelli ahead of the 26-year-old in the pecking order.
A move back to Germany has been mooted for Dzeko, whilst Juventus and Milan have been credited with an interest. The two Serie A sides are both keen on bringing in a new striker this window, with the pair possessing the necessary funds to take him away from City. With Robin van Persie, potentially, moving to Manchester City this summer, an exit is the most likely outcome for the burly front-man.
Mental factor 4/10
Robert Lewandowski (Borussia Dortmund and Poland)
Robert Lewandowski was tipped as one of the possible stars of Euro 2012, and the Poland international didn’t disappoint. Netting the opening goal of the tournament, the Borussia Dortmund star carried on his impressive goalscoring exploits from the previous campaign, where he found the back of the net 30 times as the German outfit romped to a Bundesliga and German Cup double.
Reports prior to Euro 2012 suggested that Lewandowski was set for a move to Manchester United, who acquired former team-mate Shinji Kagawa earlier this summer. However, with nothing materialising, the 23-year-old remains firmly on the books of Dortmund ahead of the new season.
Unlikely to sell cheap this summer, Milan will now have money to spend and the powerful front-man ticks the right boxes for Berlusconi’s new era with the Rossoneri. Young and a more than capable target man, Lewandowski would provide a similar threat to Ibrahimovic for Allegri and possibly offer more of a threat through his work ethic a prolificacy in and around the 18-yard box.
Mental factor 3/10
So it's Berba ahead of Tevez by a nose, they wouldn't really sign Carroll, would they?
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