A couple of things are sure about Zlatan Ibrahimović. He can play football, he can score goals, he gets better with age. And he is a hell of an entertainer.
Zlatan started his career in his native Sweden, playing for Malmo. After just 2 senior seasons there, at the age of 20, he joined Ajax. In Amsterdam, he scored 35 goals in 3 seasons and earned himself a move to Juventus.
At Juve he was also great, but when he turned 25 and moved to Inter after the Calciopolli scandal. From that moment on he neared goal per game ratio. At Inter he scored 57 in 88 games, at PSG 113 times in 122 matches. In his two stints at Milan he bagged more than 50 goals, he even got 17 goals in Premier League for Manchester United. And of course, he ruled the MLS when he was at LA Galaxy.
Clearly, he is a remarkable football player. But more than that, he is a cult hero. Everybody loves Zlatan, and his confidence and cockiness got him a huge fanbase. From that, he built his business empire.
Malmo’s fraud, and a manager
At the start of his career at Malmo Ibrahimović didn’t have a manager or a consultant. Malmo’s sports director advised him not to get one, in order to manipulate him. When he moved to Ajax, Zlatan got a monthly salary of just €20.000. On the other hand, Malmo got the biggest transfer fee in the history of the club.
Ibra was furious, so he decided to get an agent who will represent him. Of the two choices, David Beckam’s agency and Mino Raiola, Zlatan immediately liked Raiola. This was the start of the uprising of the both of them.
Both of them share the love of conflict, and they fist forced a move to Juventus. From then on, the Swedish striker was always one of the best-paid players in the world. In his words:
„They need me to sell, I don’t need them“.
How Zlatan earns his millions?
Now, Zlatan nows his finances perfectly. At LA Galaxy he broke the record for the best-paid player in MLS history with a contract worth 7 million dollars a year. But his best contract was the one at Manchester United. Ed Woodward paid 20 million dollars for a year of Zlatan.
Clubs have paid €170 million so far to have him in their teams but just look at his destinations. Paris, Barcelona, Milano, LA, Amsterdam… All global cosmopolitan cities with a huge population, and that’s the thing that increases Zlatan’s brand value. And, just to take a note, it’s not to bad to live there, also.
Big companies like Adidas and Nike focus on a small number of key cities, Zlatan played in those cities. Also, his personality is very marketable. For example, when he signed for LA Galaxy he bought a full-page in LA Times, just to write:
„Dear LA, you’re welcome.“
Of course, Volvo, as a Scandinavian giant gave him money for sponsorship. But also companies like Visa, Microsoft, and Nike also employed him. He even tried to launch his own sportswear company, but it failed after a year.
Ibra published two books, and both of them were huge hits worldwide. He also owns 25% of Hammarby and looks to make them the strongest Scandinavian football club.
In 2020 Zlatan’s net worth was valued at €200 million. So, don’t worry about Zlatan when he hangs his boots. But, that could also be far away, from the look of things now, and from his form at Milan last season.