Keown: I wish Ibrahimovic joined Arsenal

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The former Gunners centre-back regrets Arsene Wenger's failure to land the Swede and believes that comparisons with Eric Cantona are inevitable

Former Arsenal defender Martin Keown still laments Zlatan Ibrahimovic not joining the Premier League club in 2000.

Ibrahimovic, now playing a starring role at Manchester United, was once offered a trial by Arsene Wenger, but turned it down and insisted he found it insulting.

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Keown, who was at Arsenal at the time and won three league titles with the club, rued the fact the Swede opted against making the move.

"I regret that Zlatan Ibrahimovic never joined Arsenal," he wrote in the Daily Mail.

"He visited the club in 2000 as a teenager and such was his physique and frame my team-mates joked that the Swede was coming to take my place at centre-back.

"Even then you could see Ibrahimovic had such a big presence. Now that he is thriving at Manchester United, the comparisons with Eric Cantona are inevitable."

Ibrahimovic has enjoyed a trophy-laden career at the likes of Inter, Barcelona, AC Milan, Paris Saint-Germain and now United.

The striker led Jose Mourinho's side to EFL Cup success on Sunday, scoring a brace – including the match-winner – to take his tally to 26 goals in 38 matches in all competitions this season.

And Keown believes the comparisons to Cantona are warranted. He added: "I man-marked Cantona for England against France and for Everton when he was at Leeds," he wrote.

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"Although Cantona was an intelligent player, I never felt he was going to run away from me. When I could lock on to him, I knew I could deal with him.

"In a one-against-one situation Ibrahimovic has more. He is bigger, stronger and more powerful.

"Cantona unlocked the door for United’s success in his five seasons at the club. He will always be considered The King, but Ibrahimovic is helping to rescue United's reputation and make them great again."

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