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'Ibrahimovic is up there with Ronaldo and Messi - but the arrogant thing doesn't interest me' - Mateta on 'idol' Zlatan

21:29 GMT 23/03/2020
Zlatan Ibrahimovic AC Milan 2019-20
The Swedish superstar's supreme confidence is well known, but not everyone is impressed with his off-field behaviour

Mainz striker Jean-Philippe Mateta has aimed a dig at Zlatan Ibrahamovic, criticising him for his “arrogant” behaviour off the pitch, despite admitting the former Sweden international is his idol on it.

Ibrahamovic, currently in his second spell at AC Milan, is known for being one of the most charismatic figures in the game, with a career taking in some of football's most illustrious clubs.

His larger than life performances on the pitch are often matched by his comments off it, though the supreme confidence he has in his ability is often interpreted as arrogance by some.

That is certainly the opinion of Mateta, who believes he shares some of the Swedes playing attributes, but isn’t impressed with his behaviour away from the pitch.

“Zlatan (was my idol growing up). I was looking for a tall striker who ran quickly, that showed technical skills, who can dribble," he told France Football.

"What did I like about him? His goalscoring side. All he did was score. After Ronaldo and Messi, he is the greatest goalscorer in history. There is no debate. What he has done, it is incredible.

"But, aside from that, everything outside of that, when he speaks to the press and does the whole arrogant thing, that doesn’t interest me.”

Mateta could have ended up going face-to-face with Ibrahimovic had a rumoured move to Napoli gone through in January.

The 22-year-old admits there was interest, but Mainz did not want to sell with the club currently fourth from bottom in Bundesliga.

He remains fiercely ambitious though and is determined to win silverware in the near future.

“There were several offers, but it was up to the club to decide,” he added. “Given their position in the table, the club wanted me to stay so that we could stay up.

“My goal is to win trophies, win the Champions League, the World Cup, the Euro, the Olympic Games.

Germany (is the ideal league), I like it. But it's the project that interests me, not the club.

“I don't have a club in my head. A club which competes at the top of the league, which has ambition.

“I'm 22 years old. I have to play. I have to score goals.”