Is Zlatan Ibrahimovic ready to excel in the English Premier League? Arsenal coach Arsene Wenger has his doubts. The soon-to-be 35-year-old may just be too old to keep up, he said.
"Honestly, I don't know [how well he'll do]," Wenger said ahead of Arsenal's preseason match against Manchester United set for Sunday. "Going for him is his class, his talent, his desire to do well. What goes against him is that he is not the youngest player anymore, so you are questioned about that in every game."
Wenger could have a point. Ibrahimovic is set to turn 35 in less than three months and it can be a precipitous drop in quality for players pushing past their time. Normal humans tend to be constrained by things like getting older, after all.
But is there concrete evidence that the man who challenged us all to "Dare to Zlatan" is not superhuman? The Swedish superstar has done his part to portray a more-than-human persona, famously remarking on his departure from PSG, "I came like a king, I left like a legend." Swedes have added a word the word "zlatanera," meaning "to dominate," to their dictionary in his honor.
Ibrahimovic has backed up his talk on the field in this preseason so far, scoring an impressive bicycle kick in his first four minutes in a Manchester United shirt. His debut only seemed to confirm manager Jose Mourninho's remarks about the striker a week earlier, when Mourninho said: "The real age, the real ID is your body, your brain, your attitude -- and this guy is young, his body is amazing."
Wenger, for his part, did admit in his comments that Ibrahimovic has that little something extra on the pitch: "He is a winner, he has charisma and he will give them a strength as well as his individual quality."
It remains to be seen if Zlatan will age like a normal human, or whether he will zlatanera his biological clock -- but the Premier League should probably watch out either way.
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