‘Ibrahimovic isn’t a decoration, he’s a godsend’ – AC Milan boss Pioli delighted with returning striker

The Swedish talisman is already proving his worth following his return to Serie A, according to his appreciative new manager

Zlatan Ibrahimovic has proven to be a “godsend” for AC Milan, says Stefano Pioli.

The Milan boss added the Rossoneri squad have already been helped on and off the pitch by the forward’s arrival.

Ibrahimovic signed for Milan as a free agent after leaving MLS side LA Galaxy, returning to the club where he spent two seasons between 2010 and 2012 before leaving for Paris Saint-Germain.

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It did not take long for the 38-year-old to make an impact, with Ibrahimovic scoring on his first start in a 2-0 win over Cagliari last time out in Serie A.

Milan, now unbeaten in three matches in all competitions following their 3-0 win over SPAL in the Coppa Italia on Wednesday, sit 10th in Serie A, and Pioli has hailed Ibrahimovic’s immediate impact.

“Zlatan is proving that he is not just a decoration or a statue, but a great player, performing on the field,” Pioli told a news conference ahead of Milan’s clash with Udinese on Sunday.

“His arrival was a godsend for what he shows on the pitch and in training.

“He gives his best like a young player. He is a player who doesn’t want to lose even one match, that’s how he raises the level in a team, he was also signed for this.”

Pioli has been contending with a glut of injuries, but has been impressed with how Milan have played since returning from the winter break.

“The team is working a lot, we have found balance even with a different game system, everyone is actively trying to put pressure on the opponent,” Pioli said.

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“We have to score more points quickly. We will play four times at the San Siro in the next five games, including the Coppa Italia. It will not be a decisive period but it’s very important.

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“I was hoping to recover a few more players, we are in somewhat of an emergency, but those who are there are well and motivated.”

Milan will be hoping Ibrahimovic can help them put together a run of form after a difficult first half to the Serie A season.

With 19 games played, they find themselves almost exactly halfway in between the bottom three and top four, and will be looking to claw back the 10-point gap to fourth-placed Atalanta.