The conclusion of the 2021-22 season would've been a fitting moment for Zlatan Ibrahimović to retire. Despite struggling with persistent Achilles and knee problems, Ibrahimović managed to appear in 23 Serie A matches for Milan, scoring eight goals and providing three assists, to help the Rossoneri capture a first Scudetto in 11 years.
He also made an appearance for Sweden at the age of 40, which is the perfect testament to his staying power at the top of the world's game. But Ibrahimović revealed he played through an ACL injury for the majority of the campaign and underwent an operation in May that requires up to eight months of recovery.
"I have never suffered so much on and off the pitch," Ibrahimović revealed. "Barely slept for six months because of the pain. I was only able to train with the team 10 times in the last six months. For the last six months I played without an ACL in my left knee. Took more than 20 injections in six months. Emptied the knee once a week for six months. Painkillers every day for six months."
Ibrahimović's current Milan deal expires on June 30, which added to the rumors of retirement, but the Swede apparently wants to continue playing beyond his 41st birthday in October.
According to Football Italia, Ibrahimović is going to sign a six-month contract extension with Milan to pay him just $105,000 (Milan paid him $7.32 million last year). This period will coincide with the striker's recovery from the ACL surgery (it'd be great if he took up a spot next to Stefano Pioli on the bench), and then Ibrahimović will sign another six-month deal (if recovery goes well) that's largely incentive and bonus based.
Like the great heavyweights of boxing, Ibrahimović continuously wants one more fight. He can't resist the thrill of competition and fisticuffs.
Time is on my side pic.twitter.com/kjjWw7rDZa— Zlatan Ibrahimović (@Ibra_official) June 23, 2022
Milan is targeting a stronger Champions League performance this season after getting bounced in last year's group stage. The team lost Franck Kessié on a free transfer to Barcelona, but Divock Origi arrives after the expiration of his Liverpool contract.
Olivier Giroud is another option at striker with one year remaining on his contract, but Milan's main target for renewal is Rafael Leão. The 23-year-old is attracting interest from Real Madrid and Manchester City after scoring 11 goals and providing 10 assists from the left wing last season.