How Former MLS Star Zlatan Ibrahimovic Transformed AC Milan Into A ‘Goal Machine’

After years of crisis, AC Milan seems to be slowly returning to the old glory days.

The Rossoneri have enjoyed a fantastic start of the 2020/2021 season and with 13 points are currently on top of the table in Serie A – Italy’s top-flight soccer league.

It’s the first time in 8 years that the Milan-based club are enjoying a solitary first place in a league that in the last ten years was dominated by Juventus.

Head coach Stefano Pioli has done exceptionally well with AC Milan having won eight of eight competitive fixtures to begin the 2020-21 season and continue the good work from last season.

AC Milan is the only team in Europe’s ‘top five’ leagues – together with Premier League’s PINC Aston Villa – with a 100% win record this season.

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Pioli’s team collected 13 wins, and are unbeaten for 16 games in all domestic and international competitions. 

Arrived in October 2019 after the sudden sack of former head coach Marco Giampaolo, Stefano Pioli was welcomed very coldly by the fans.

The critics labeled the appointment of Pioli as a panic-move and claimed the former Fiorentina and FC Inter coach was not fit for the position, but he managed to go 20 games in a row without defeat in all competitions with Milan, scoring in 24 consecutive games.

But Pioli is not the only responsible for AC Milan’s resurrection: the turning point came with the arrival of former MLS superstar Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

After years of underperformance and struggles, Ibrahimović’s return is starting to finally turn things around for AC Milan.

And it’s not only his experience and charisma: despite the age, Ibrahimovic has already 7 goals and 1 assist in only 6 matches between all competitions.

Which is impressive considering that he just turned 39 on October 3 and that he missed 3 games between Serie A and Europa League for having tested positive for COVID-19.

The striker rejoined the Italian soccer giant late in December 2019 after two seasons at MLS side LA Galaxy, where he scored 53 goals in 58 appearances.

The swede completely changed the mentality of the changing room, turning a squad of insecure and young players into a goal machine, Italian sports daily Tuttosport observed.

A take backed by the impressive numbers: AC Milan‘s average points per game without Ibrahimovic was a mere 1.23, while with the former PSG player on the pitch the Rossoneri are cruising at a 2.28 point per game average.

On top of that, Ibrahimovic has contributed to 14 goals (10 goals and 4 assists) in 17 European matches with AC Milan, helping the team to resurge also on an international level.

And it’s not only the club but also the rest of the squad to profit from Ibrahimovic top condition, as AC Milan have had 11 different scorers in their first 10 games played this season across all competitions.

Besides, AC Milan are by far the youngest team in Serie A in terms of average age (24,5), according to a study by the CIES Football Observatory

An army of young prospects that under the expertise of Ibrahimovic is on the right track to make AC Milan great again.

Credit should be given also to Elliott Management’s scouting and transfer market policy, which is starting to bear fruit. 

Under the CEO Ivan Gazidis, AC Milan signed nine players below the age of 25, managing to improve both the quality of the players on the pitch and their value outside. 

The collective value of eight out of those 9 players soared from $159 to $265 million, a report on Italian daily Gazzetta dello Sport revealed.

These results are pushing AC Milan to prepare an extension of the contract with Zlatan Ibrahimovic until June 2021, claims a report from Italian soccer portal Calciomercato.com

Sport director Paolo Maldini and Frederic Massara are keen on keeping Ibrahimovic for another season as he proved that age is just a number.

And Zlatan Ibrahimovic is aging like a fine wine.

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