Zlatan Ibrahimović (€16 million) (11/20)

The football career of Zlatan Ibrahimović is one of great success, heated controversy, and (most importantly) a ton of goal scoring. Brought up in the Swedish city of Malmö, Zlatan was enrolled in the local team, Malmö FF, in his early teens. He was promoted to their largely unsuccessful first team in 1999 and helped them through a relegation with his fantastic physical play and scoring threat. Zlatan also gained a reputation for being hotheaded.

In 2001, at the age of 19, Zlatan Ibrahimović was sold to AFC Ajax for a club record fee of €7.8 million for De Godenzonen. The largely unproven, lanky forward struggled to get on the score sheet during his first season. Zlatan persevered through tough results and heavy competition to amass 48 goals in 110 appearances for Ajax over three seasons. His final goal in the red and white was possibly his greatest ever: a mazy, silky run that saw him glide past the whole NAC Breda defense with shot fakes before sliding the ball into the net.

On Transfer Deadline Day in August 2004, Zlatan Ibrahimović was sold to Juventus FC for €16 million – a two-fold return for Ajax. He never did make the Turin club his own, and two years later he was off to Inter Milan for roughly €25 million. Sixty-six goals in 118 appearances proved that Ibrahimović could do it on a big stage – a chance that he took by joining FC Barcelona.

The nearly €70 million transfer fee paid by the Catalan club was quite the expenditure, but the Swede didn’t quite gel into the team. One year later and he was back in Italy, this time attempting European success with AC Milan. Zlatan’s prolific form peaked in 2011/12, when the striker scored 35 goals in 44 appearances for Milan. Rising stars Paris St. Germain saw him as the player to take them to the next level; that summer Ibrahimović, now in his late 20’s, was off to France.

Four years of controlling Ligue 1 passed by and Zlatan had become the Parisians’ all-time leading goal scorer: 156 goals in only 180 matches. Sweden’s best player of all time had etched his name into football history, but there was yet another challenge he needed to take on. The summer of 2016 saw Zlatan Ibrahimović join Manchester United.

A bland Premier League campaign in his first season ended in European triumph as Zlatan’s United triumphed over Ajax. Over a decade had passed, but the passion felt between the two entities was apparent. Now, as Manchester United push for a Premier League title, 35-year-old Zlatan will do everything in his power to cap off an astonishing career with even more silverware.

A gigantic presence on the pitch, both physically and personality-wise, Zlatan Ibrahimović is already considered by many as one of the best number-nine’s to grace a football pitch. Complete with immaculate skill on the ball, a great awareness on the pitch, and a fiery, technical finishing touch, Zlatan is certainly one of the greats. His personality is what will make him a truly memorable person, though. As he once said, “I can’t help but laugh at how perfect I am.”

Written by Alex Dieker

Founder and Editor-in-Chief of The Crossbar Post, as well as a writer for AjaxDaily and lover of all things Ajax!