'Zlatan Ibrahimovic fever' hits Hammarby as striker trains with club again
FOOTBALL By Reuters | April 19th 2020
Swedish club Hammarby got another dose of 'Zlatan fever' on Friday when the AC Milan striker once again trained with the top-flight Stockholm side in which he owns a stake.
The club and their fans would love to see Ibrahimovic, who also trained with the squad on Monday, in their colours but the 38-year-old remained tight-lipped about his future.
Sweden's record international scorer played a full part in training but declined to talk to the media afterwards.
Hammarby officials have made no secret of their desire to see Ibrahimovic in the club's green and white colours when the Allsvenskan eventually gets going after the coronavirus pandemic but they are not too optimistic it will come to pass.
Asked if he would like to see Ibra, who has won a slew of titles in the Netherlands, Italy, Spain and France and whose contract with Milan ends in June, play for 'Bajen', as they are known, Hammarby sporting director Jesper Jansson was clear.
"Yes, of course, but it's nothing we have discussed. Him and me, we discuss and he's a part-owner, but when he's on the pitch he's here to keep the football going and keep fit, so we haven't discussed that," Jansson told Reuters.
Hammarby assistant manager Joachim Bjorklund, Ibrahimovic's former Sweden team mate, has no doubt he could make an impact as the club, who finished third in a very tight title race last season, seek to add to their single league title from 2001.
"He could probably do whatever he wants in the Allsvenskan, but I don't think that's an option right now," Bjorklund said.
"I know there are a lot of people supporting Hammarby and Zlatan, but the decision in the end is his, and only his, and if it comes to that he's more than welcome to join us.
"In these difficult times, when we still don't have a starting date for the Allsvenskan... all the extra motivation is good, and when he's here training you can see in our players that they get motivated," he added.
Hammarby's Danish keeper David Ousted, who made a fantastic save for Chicago Fire to deny Zlatan in an MLS game with LA Galaxy last season, is enjoying getting to know the Swede as the world waits for soccer to resume after the Covid-19 pandemic.
"It's fun, it brings a little bit of competitiveness," said the 35-year-old. "People enjoy having him here, he's a good guy and he obviously brings the quality he has to the training.
"I think it's great, especially in these times when we don't have a match right now," he added.
Ibrahimovic's acquisition of a stake in Hammarby in late 2019 prompted a violent reaction from rival fans of Malmo FF, where he made his name, and a statue in his honour outside the club's stadium has been repeatedly vandalised.
However, a return to the Allsvenskan for the most dominant Swedish player of his generation would be a dream come true for most soccer fans around the country.
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