AC Milan have left Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Barcelona loanee Sergino Dest out of their squad for the knockout stages of the UEFA Champions League. The Rossoneri face Tottenham Hotspur in the last 16 of Europe’s elite club competition. The first leg takes place on February 14 and the second leg on March 8.
Ibrahimovic, 41, has not featured for Milan this season after knee surgery in the summer. There were hopes that the veteran Swedish striker could return for the second half of the season.
However, the Serie A giants have confirmed their squad for the knockout rounds of the Champions League, and Ibrahimovic has failed to make the cut. Stefano Pioli has deemed the former Barcelona striker too much of a risk.
Ibrahimovic rejoined Milan in 2020 as a free agent following the expiration of his contract with LA Galaxy that summer. He has scored 33 goals in 60 Serie A games since returning to the San Siro.
The only other change to Milan‘s Champions League squad from the group stage is Dest dropping out. Malick Thiaw has replaced the American right-back, who has been dealing with muscular problems. Dest arrived at Milan from Barcelona on loan in the summer and has made 14 appearances across competitions.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic deems his time at Barcelona as worst period of his career
Zlatan Ibrahimovic secured a blockbuster move to Barcelona from Inter Milan in 2009 for €69.5 million after his stock rose in Italian football as one of the game’s most prolific forwards.
However, the veteran frontman struggled at the Camp Nou under former manager Pep Guardiola. He managed 22 goals in 44 appearances but endured a miserable time in Catalonia.
The Swede has admitted that he didn’t enjoy his spell with the Blaugrana, calling it the worst memory of his career. He told Canal + in November last year:
“My worst memory? I think it was Barcelona, but not for football. There, it happened to me to think too much.'”
“Yes I disappointed myself. I did things differently. I thought twice before acting, and I disappointed myself. I lost my identity there. Afterwards, I found it again, and that allowed me to conquer the world.”
Zlatan Ibrahimovic fell out of favour with Guardiola during his time at Barcelona. The striker told ESPN in 2017 that they shared a frosty relationship. That eventually led to his departure in 2011 to Milan for his first spell at the San Siro:
“I did not have the problem (with Guardiola), so it cannot bother me. It has to bother the other one, because I did not have the problem… when I was in Barcelona, I resolved the problem by saying, ‘No problem. If you have a problem, I will resolve it for you: I leave.”
The 41-year-old hasn’t played in almost a year.