‘Hopefully injuries won’t reduce Ibrahimovic’s power’ – Albertini says AC Milan veteran is as important as Lukaku

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The Rossoneri legend is looking forward to seeing an enigmatic Swede back out on the field as the Serie A title race starts to heat up

With Zlatan Ibrahimovic working his way back from injury at the age of 39, AC Milan legend Demetrio Albertini hopes the Swedish striker’s “power” will not be impacted by fitness issues.

The enigmatic frontman has recovered from more serious complaints in the past, with knee ligament damage suffered while on the books at Manchester United.

He keeps himself in peak physical condition and has shown no sign of slowing down despite advancing towards his 40th birthday.

Milan have been benefitting from his presence for a second time since the experienced frontman returned to San Siro from a spell at MLS side the LA Galaxy in January.

Ibrahimovic has helped to turn the Rossoneri into title challengers this season, with 11 goals recorded through 10 appearances prior to being laid low in late November.

He has now returned to training ahead of a possible recall to Stefano Pioli’s plans, with Albertini looking forward to seeing a talismanic presence back in action.

“It’s not enough to have just him on the pitch, but he is vital, just as much as [Romelu] Lukaku at Inter,” Albertini, who spent 14 years of his senior career with Milan, told Gazzetta dello Sport.

“I hope the injury won’t reduce Ibra’s power. For a player of his age, injuries can have an impact, better not to forget that.”

Ibrahimovic is not the only superstar at Milan, with Pioli blessed with so many options at present that the highly-rated Sandro Tonali is being restricted to a role on the bench.

Albertini considers that to be the right call, saying of a talented 20-year-old: “Yes, for what we’ve witnessed so far.

“I’m not going to change my mind about him. He must improve in terms of self-confidence and it is right to wait for him.

“When I was a footballer they said foreign players needed time to settle in, the same must apply for a 20-year-old guy.”

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Milan will happily take inspiration from anywhere at present, with their lead at the top of the Serie A table having been cut to just one point with two games left to take in before a winter break.

Quizzed on who he expects to lead the way heading into 2021, Albertini said: “Inter have more experience, they are more structured, but Milan have something special. Just look at how they play. They often stay in their opponents’ half even if they don’t do a lot of ball possession.

“More than defending the Serie A leadership, Milan must defend their enthusiasm. If it happens, they can win.”