Why Zlatan Ibrahimovic could steal Jose Mourinho’s thunder in the battle against Pep

“But the person and the coach are two different things. My thing with him was as a person. As a person, I have no comments about that. That is something else. He is not a man. There’s nothing more to say.”

Guardiola took Ibrahimovic to the Nou Camp in 2009 from Inter Milan where he had enjoyed a successful year under Mourinho. But it was against the advice of former Milan and Italy coach Arrigo Sacchi, who said: “Ibrahimovic is a fantastic player, but he is too much of an individualist in what is a team game. I advised Guardiola not to sign him.”

Despite scoring 21 goals in 45 games in all competitions in the 2009-10 season, helping Barca win a second successive La Liga title plus the World Club Cup, the UEFA Super Cup and the Spanish Super Cup, the relationship soon turned sour amid rumours of dressing-room bust-ups and claims that Guardiola didn’t speak to Ibrahimovic from February onwards. 

Ibrahimovic pulled no punches in his autobiography when he described his relationship with Guardiola. “It was war and it was me against him,” he wrote. “Guardiola the frightened little over-thinker who couldn’t even look me in the eye or say good morning.”

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