AC Milan director Leonardo shot down reports suggesting that the Italian club could be set for a reunion with former teammate Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
“Ibra has very close ties to Milan, everyone knows this,” he told Sky Sport Italia, as translated by Football Italia, ahead of Thursday’s Europa League encounter with Olympiacos. “We cannot deny it was more than a brief thought going through our minds when we first arrived, as he is extraordinary and has very specific characteristics, but right now it’s not possible.”
Ibrahimovic, who joined the LA Galaxy in March, is said to be in favor of returning to Milan on a short-term deal in December once the Major League Soccer season concludes, according to Monica Colombo of Corriere della Sera.
Meanwhile, Milan manager Gennaro Gattuso insisted he wasn’t sure if there’s any truth to the report.
“I can only send him my best wishes for his birthday,” he said in an interview with Sky Sport Italia, as translated Ben Gladwell of ESPN. “He’s managed to get back to playing as a great protagonist in America after the serious injury he had a few months ago.
“That’s it – I can only talk about the players I have available. I don’t know if there is any truth behind it at the moment. I just send him my best wishes for his birthday with great affection and great respect.”
Gattuso added that such a decision is beyond his control.
“I wish him well for his birthday, but I can only talk about my own players today,” he said. “This is a question you need to put to (director of strategic development Paolo) Maldini, (technical director) Leonardo, and (president) Paolo Scaroni.”
Ibrahimovic enjoyed two productive seasons at the San Siro, scoring 56 goals in 85 appearances for a Milan side he helped win Serie A in 2011 before he made the move to Paris Saint-Germain.
He has since forged a solid career in the United States, where he ranks second in scoring with 20 goals in 24 appearances.