Pioli wants Zlatan stay as AC Milan close on Scudetto
Zlatan Ibrahimovic is out of contract at the end of the season, yet Stefano Pioli wants the 40-year-old striker to remain with Milan.
Milan coach Stefano Pioli is keen to retain Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who he called “a champion with a capital C”, but knows the forward will make the final decision on his future.
Ibrahimovic is still going strong at the age of 40, but is out of contract at the end of the season.
Milan top the Serie A table heading into their final home game of the campaign against Atalanta on Sunday, though they hold only a two-point lead over city rivals Inter.
Should the Rossoneri win or draw and Inter fail to beat Cagliari, then a first Scudetto in 11 years will be confirmed with a game to spare.
Ibrahimovic played a key role in that title win in 2010-11, and returned for a second stint at Milan in 2020.
Injuries have limited him to just 11 Serie A starts this season, and 22 appearances in the competition in total, though he has still scored eight goals, and Pioli hopes he will be able to call on the Swede heading into the 2022-23 campaign.
Pioli: Zlatan will make his own decision
“No, I don’t think so,” Pioli replied when he was asked in a news conference if Ibrahimovic would be playing at San Siro for Milan for the final time on Sunday.
“There are two games to go. Last at San Siro? I hope not, he is a champion with a capital C.”
Pioli will accept whatever decision Ibrahimovic makes, however.
He added: “My opinion of him is immeasurable. I hope that we don’t lose him, but Zlatan has the intelligence and the maturity necessary to understand what will be in his future.
“Now Sunday’s match is as important for him as it is for all of us, it is useless to talk about his future and our future now.
Milan have won their last two Serie A meetings against Atalanta, after winning only once in their previous 11 (D6 L4).
However, Atalanta are unbeaten in their last seven away Serie A games against Milan (W3 D4), keeping a clean sheet five times.
Indeed, Milan’s last home win against Atalanta in the competition was in January 2014.