Four goal hero Zlatan Ibrahimovic praised England captain Steven Gerrard before Wednesday’s friendly, asserting that was not an archetypal English player but that he would have benefited from a move away from Liverpool.
Speaking to the Independent before the game, Ibrahimovic was generous in his praise for the 32 year old midfielder who won his 100th cap for his country on Wednesday night in England’s 4-2 defeat by Sweden but critical of his decision to stay at Liverpool and not look for a new challenge.
“Of course Liverpool is a big club but I would like to see Steven in a big international club,” Ibrahimovic said.
“It is very exciting when someone goes abroad and shows who he is in another competition. For me, a fantastic player can make a difference in every country wherever he plays and I’m pretty sure that Steven will do that.”
The well travelled Swede, who has played for Barcelona, Juventus, Inter Milan, A.C. Milan, Ajax and currently turns out for the newly minted Paris St Germain, believes that Gerrard should have played abroad.
Although he praised his heart and attitude, Ibrahimovic said that Gerrard would have benefited from playing for a ‘big international club’.
Ibrahimovic continued, “I think [he has a] big heart, always fighting, aggressive. Steven Gerrard is more international, [has] more skills than a normal player.
England is used to playing 4-4-2 and the big teams in the Premier League play 4-3-3 with a lot of foreign players. English players are big and strong.
But it is developing like every other competition and every other country. It is a fantastic team with fantastic players.”
The subject of a move away from Anfield was raised a few years ago when Jose Mourinho, then the Chelsea manager, tried to sign Gerrard for the west London club. Gerrard refused, enhancing his status as a living Liverpool legend and club talisman.