Over the years, many legendary players have put on the AC Milan shirt. However, only a few of them have returned for a second spell at the club. Zlatan Ibrahimovic is one of them, and the Swede appears to be on his way back for a third spell.
Ibrahimovic only left the Rossoneri in the summer at the ripe old age of 41. His departure from Milan was that of a king leaving his throne for the final time. But barely three months since his exit, an agreement has been reached for another return. This time around, it will be in a non-playing role.
In football, legends come and go. But it’s an entirely different ball game when these legends return home. But how have three of AC Milan’s biggest names fared upon their return to the San Siro?
When Kaka left Milan to be a part of Real Madrid’s latest collection of galacticos in the summer of 2009, he was arguably the best player in the world. He made the Rossoneri one of Europe’s biggest powerhouses, once winning the Champions League, but the online sports betting odds don’t fancy them to repeat it this term after making them rank outsiders. Instead, reigning champions Manchester City are the overwhelming favourites.
Kaka claimed the Ballon d’Or in 2007 after leading Milan to their seventh and most recent UEFA Champions League crown. He was the last player in 11 years other than Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo to lift the famous golden trophy and as such, it’s safe to say he was already a legend by the time he rejoined the club in 2013.
Unfortunately for the Brazilian, when he returned to Italy on loan, both he and Milan were shadows of their former selves. He didn’t showcase the best of his talents during an injury-hit stint at the Bernabeu, but many hoped that he could return to peak form at the club that made him an icon.
That perhaps didn’t end up being the case, but it didn’t stop him from scoring crucial goals, including one in his first game back with the club. In total, he scored 9 goals and assisted an additional 7 for the Rossoneri.
Shevchenko was the heart and soul of Milan’s offence for seven seasons. He ended his Milan career with more than 170 goals and helped the Rossoneri win the Champions League in 2003, after which he was named both the Ballon d’Or and Serie A Footballer of the Year.
He signed another contract with Milan in 2008 and stayed for two more years, but his second spell was less successful. Returning in 2008 at the age of 31, injuries and age had caught up with him. He struggled to match his previous levels of performance, but he was still an important part of the dressing room and popped up with a few goals.
We started with Zlatan, and we will end with the main man. The former Sweden captain is a box-office sensation wherever he goes. So when he returned to AC Milan in January 2020, it was a massive deal. The Swede had played for Milan from 2010-12, winning a Serie A title and becoming a fan favourite in the process.
In his second spell, despite being 37 years old, he was once again the team’s talisman. The veteran striker scored some important goals, but above all helped Milan recover mentally after a tough start to the season. The Rossoneri then only lost two games in the second half of the season, proving the importance of his return.
Naturally, Milan decided to renew his contract in the summer and his good form continued into the 2020-21 campaign. It was an injury-ridden year for him, unfortunately, but he still managed to find the back of the net an impressive 17 times.
Milan finished second beyond city rivals Inter and decided to renew Ibrahimovic’s contract once again. The Swede missed most of the season due to injuries, but he still helped the Rossoneri to claim their first Scudetto in over a decade with 11 goal contributions.
The 2022-23 season, following yet another renewal, was certainly less successful but a tearful farewell at San Siro showed just how much he means to the club. In short, the impact of his second spell was huge. And perhaps that will be the case for his third spell as well.