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'Zlatan is a warrior & he'll stimulate the whole team' - Pioli optimistic Swedish striker will lift Milan

13:34 GMT 31/12/2019
Zlatan Ibrahimovic
The Italian boss thinks that the former LA Galaxy star's "contribution will be crucial" as the Rossoneri seek to climb the Serie A table

Zlatan Ibrahimovic is a "leader" with a "great desire to win", according to Milan boss Stefano Pioli, who is confident that the Swedish striker "will stimulate the whole team".

Ibrahimovic returned to San Siro officially on December 27, following weeks of speculation in the wake of his decision to leave the LA Galaxy.

The 38-year-old put pen to paper on a short-term contract set to run until the end of the season, rejoining the club he helped to win the 2011 Scudetto.

The Swedish centre-forward will be unveiled as a Milan player on January 3, three days before a Serie A clash against Sampdoria.

The Rossoneri's 2019-20 campaign has been a nightmare so far, with only 21 points recorded from their first 17 fixtures.

Marco Giampaolo lost his job after just three-and-a-half months at the helm back in October, with Pioli the latest man charged with turning fortunes around at San Siro.

Pioli has described Ibrahimovic as a "warrior" who knows how to be the "reference point" upfront, while expressing his belief that the veteran frontman can help Milan rediscover a "competitive streak".

"Ibra is a warrior, a leader, a charismatic player who has a great sense of responsibility and a great desire to win," Pioli told Corriere Della Sera.

"He'll stimulate the whole team, his contribution will be crucial. Being the youngest team in the league, we've encountered some limitations in terms of a competitive streak.

"Ibra is the kind of player, person and leader who can help us fill that void. I thank the club. Gazidis, Maldini, Boban and Massara worked a lot during the holidays.

"He can do it all, he knows how set up his team-mates, he knows how to occupy the box well and he'll know how to be the reference point in our attack.

"I spoke to him on the phone, he's very fired up and he can't wait to train with us, just like I can't wait to coach him."

Ibrahimovic left Manchester United to join the LA Galaxy on a free transfer in March 2018, and went on to score 53 goals in 58 games for the MLS outfit.

The former Sweden international has also enjoyed successful spells at Juventus, Inter, Barcelona and Ajax, carving out a fearsome reputation as one of the world's finest players.

Milan have the option to extend Ibrahimovic's stay by a year if he proves to be a hit in Italy once again, and he has already promised to "fight together with my teammates to change the course of this season".