Milan's man with the 'Golden Touch'
Zlatan Ibrahimovic has a way of burning bridges with his former teams, but one must say that "Ibra" does so in the style befitting of a man with his talents.
Massimo Moratti must have been a heartbroken man on Sunday night as not only did he see his Inter side suffer defeat at the hands of city rivals AC Milan, but also as the man responsible for it was one of his favourite acquisitions.
Ibrahimovic's career graph reads much like the high school report card of that nerdy fat kid who sat right at the head of the class—and though you would always love to point out his failures in extracurricular activities, you would eventually have to cede to the genius of the "fatso." Such is the case with "Ibra"—a man who has accumulated a vast number of trophies of late but still has to justify his potential and talent on a regular basis.
The Swedish forward has been a serial winner in the past six years and his goal against Inter looks to have set the Rossoneri on the right track for a Scudetto. Incredibly, if Milan does go on to win the title, it will be his eighth successive league championship in a row. Not bad for someone often called the most overrated player in the game.
Many had decided to write off Ibrahimovic after his sullied adventure with Barcelona. Apparently 22 goals in your first season at a club are just not enough anymore. Ibra's time at Barca can be best described as a yearlong tryst with the hottest girl at school. You just want to know what it is like to be with her fully aware that you and her are not meant to be. Ibra was not what Barcelona wanted or needed, he was big, tall and a ball-hog.
At Milan, these same qualities have transformed last season's biggest transfer disappointment to this term's best deal. Strange, how these things work. What has made Ibrahimovic such a success with the Rossoneri is his ability to take the team on his shoulders confidently and lead them. Not since the days of Andriy Shevchenko have the Diavolo had such an imposing forward and logically the results have started following suit.
Regardless of the other strikers around him, Ibra manages to hold up the ball very well—a quality visible in plentiful in the Derby Della Maddonina—and that means he can literally drive the play forward.
Last season, the Rossoneri always struggled to create chances when their big guns failed to fire but this year they have pretty much ordered the Panzer. Ibra's presence on the field means teams invariably try to match their tactics to defend against him and that in itself creates more space for his team-mates.
More often than not the best defender is glued to the Swede allowing his fellow strikers the chance to target the weaker areas of the backline. At the Rossoneri, Ibra has also become more of a team player than the glory hunter he could have been accused of being at Inter.
There are still moments of front-page-eyed selfishness, but more often than not, Ibracadabra has indeed changed his ways to suit the team. Strange, how these things work.
Yet for all his newfound selflessness, Ibra is still the one grabbing the headlines. If anything, his time at Barca weakened the "big game failure" tag he was seen carrying around his neck previously.
Zlatan has now scored decisive goals both in "El Clasico" and the "Derby Della Maddonina," an achievement not many can boast of. But knowing Ibra, don't be surprised if he actually brings that up with detailed statistics of the last player to do so in his next interview.
Love him or hate him, Ibrahimovic is a talent that any manager would love to have at his disposal (with the obvious exception of Barca coach Pep Guardiola). We are only 12 games into the new season and any predictions at this stage are quite ridiculous, but be assured if Milan continue their quest for the championship it will be led by the man with the golden touch—Zlatan "Ibracadabra."
Varun Mathure is a featured columnist for Bleacher Report, the open source sports network.