Zlatan Ibrahimovic completed his much-anticipated move to Paris Saint-Germain on Wednesday, saying he has joined ”the dream team” after becoming the big-spending French club’s most high-profile signing yet.
PSG missed out on the league title last season despite spending more than €100 million ($123 million) on players and it has upped the ante this offseason, topping it all with the transfer of Ibrahimovic from AC Milan in what sporting director Leonardo dubs ”the biggest deal in this club’s history.”
”I want to thank PSG and Leonardo,” Ibrahimovic said. ”They made something impossible possible and now I am very happy. It’s a big step in my career, another dream come true.
”I know there’s been a big media interest in this. It’s been more intense than when I moved to Barcelona. I’m very excited in this project. I’m here to make history and I will enjoy all the trophies we bring home.”
The Sweden captain has signed a three-year contract with PSG, worth a reported €14 million ($17 million) net a year, €2 million more than he earned at Milan.
”It seems that I will finish my career here but that’s what I said at Milan too,” the 30-year-old Ibrahimovic said. ”You never know what will happen. But I’m not thinking about that at the moment, I’m thinking about winning during my time here.”
PSG has paid a reported €20 million ($25 million) for Ibrahimovic, taking its summer spending on new players to an estimated €112 million ($137 million).
The club’s Qatari owners are intent on turning the club into a European power and have already signed Ibrahimovic’s former Milan teammate Thiago Silva and Napoli’s Ezequiel Lavezzi this preseason. Midfielder Marco Verratti was also unveiled Wednesday after completing his move from Pescara.
Leonardo said there will be no more signings this offseason, even though the club has been infused with seemingly limitless amounts of cash since a member of the ruling family in oil-rich Qatar bought the Paris club a year ago. Sheik Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani’s Qatar Sports Investments now owns 70 percent of the club.
PSG’s huge outlay last season included spending a French record €42 million ($55.4 million) on Argentine playmaker Javier Pastore, as well as signing winger Jeremy Menez from Roma, midfielder Mohamed Sissoko from Juventus, defenders Maxwell from Barcelona and Alex from Chelsea, along with midfielder Thiago Motta from Inter Milan.
”I come to a dream team and the dream team will continue to grow,” Ibrahimovic said. ”They will do everything to win and I want to be part of that. I’m going to be playing with the best players in the world. They’ve also bought the best defender in the world, Thiago Silva, and as long as I have him behind me I don’t need to look back.
”Who doesn’t want to be here? This is the future and I believe in this, this is the most important. When you look at the team it’s really a dream team. It’s the future not only of French football but also in Europe and even the world.”
Italian media has said that Ibrahimovic was forced out of Milan after the club decided the fee for an aging player was too good to turn down.
”I’m very happy I was there. Milan gave me my smile back,” Ibrahimovic said. ”I will always have very good memories of Milan. I was very happy. I don’t want to put a shadow over my time at Milan, they made it very easy for me to come to PSG.
”I thank them and I wish them all the luck. They are a great club and I’m sure they will continue to win.”
Ibrahimovic joined Milan from Barcelona on loan in 2010 and the move was made permanent the following year. With 28 goals, Ibrahimovic was Serie A’s top scorer last season – a feat he also achieved with Inter in 2009.
The Sweden captain spent three seasons at Inter and two at Juventus, winning the Serie A title every year – although the two he won with Juventus were later revoked because of the match-fixing scandal.
Ibrahimovic also won the Dutch league twice with Ajax and the Spanish title with Barcelona before lifting another Serie A trophy with Milan.
However, Ibrahimovic rejected the suggestion that PSG, which has not won the league title since 1994, might pale in comparison with other illustrious clubs he has played for.
”I consider this team as the same level as other teams I have played for,” he said. ”But we have to go out and show it on the pitch. If you look on paper we are definitely up there. But we have to show it. We have to win.
”Now that the dream has become reality everyone is talking about Ligue 1. Everyone should be positive about this. But it’s up to us to prove it now. We have to win.”
Ibrahimovic’s agent said Sunday that Serie A has lost its last remaining star, and Ibrahimovic agrees.
”I came here because I see the future here. I don’t see the future in Italy,” he said. ”What happens in Italy is their problem now. Losing two big stars like me and Thiago Silva is a big thing for the club and the championship.
”For sure the Italian championship without us will be more poor, but I don’t know if it will have less quality. What I know now is that with us the French championship will be better and more watched in the world.”
Ibrahimovic’s arrival has thrilled most French football supporters, with hundreds gathering at PSG’s official store on the Champs-Elysees to welcome the star after the news conference.
However, not everyone is happy with the transfer, with French sports minister Valerie Fourneyron decrying the spending spree.
”These sums are astronomic, they are unreasonable,” she said. ”They reflect everything we deplore in the footballing sector today – that is to say the absence of any regulation, and debts which keep on accumulating.
”It reminds us again how much we need the regulation that (UEFA president) Michel Platini proposes for UEFA clubs so that there will be a ceiling on the payroll in regards to all the budgets.”