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We’ve just got round to reading the English translation of Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s book and it is as interesting as the guy himself is. Although not exactly groundbreaking revelations, we thought we’d share with you some of his thoughts on his time in Barcelona and particularly his views on Pep Guardiola…
‘I thought he was alright in those days, an okay bloke. This was long before we started to do battle together.’
Gradually this changed, Zlatan started to feel like he had become boring. That he was no longer himself. He put this down to the man that he initially thought was ‘alright’. Pep.
Ibra talks of his first impressions upon arriving at Barca, of how Guardiola doesn’t like his players to be flash and of how the club was like a ‘little school, or some sort of institution’. Whether he knew it or not, in his mind it seems as though the seed of unhappiness was already nurturing.
He felt restricted, like he had to tow the line too much. He was used to driving fast cars and driving them fast and over the Christmas break he rediscovered his thirst for this kind of lifestyle on a snowy break with his family.
Although things didn’t come to an immediate head, it becomes obvious in his book that his time at Barcelona was not going to prolong beyond a fleeting visit.
‘I was the striker. Guardiola didn’t give a damn about that.’ He writes as he remembers being played out of position to accommodate Lionel Messi in a more advanced role. ‘He sacrificed me.’
The player-manager relationship was spiralling rapidly down hill by now and in the book Zlatan reveals how he stuck the knife in following a five minute cameo at Villarreal with regards to Barca’s Champions League clash with Inter: ‘You haven’t got any balls, you’re shitting yourself in front of Mourinho. You can go to hell.’
His bed was made. It is hardly surprising that the following season Zlatan Ibrahimovic was back in Italy.
It is funny that he criticises Pep, the man many fans would have in charge of their club tomorrow given a sniff of opportunity. But he did. He’s comfortable with it too. If you look at the Barca squad there has been no characters quite like the Swede but both parties can be pretty pleased with what they have achieved in football.
Perhaps one quote is more interesting than others, given Guardiola’s departure from the Camp Nou last season. Interpret it how you will:
Zlatan says ‘the guy can’t handle strong personalities, he runs away from his problems.’