Revealed: When Zlatan Ibrahimovic almost signed for Sunderland

Zlatan Ibrahimovic & Sunderland

The Times on Saturday had a brilliant report looking into how Zlatan Ibrahimovic almost signed for Sunderland.

Now at Man United in the tail-end of his stellar career, Ibra has silenced his doubters who questioned whether he could perform in the Premier League.

He’s scored 10 goals in his last nine games in all competitions, and he’s on fire.

Man United take on Sunderland at Old Trafford on Boxing Day, and few would be surprised to see the Swede on the scoresheet once again.

For the record, no team has won more top flight games on Boxing Day than Man United.

So what’s this Sunderland story about?

The story comes from 2002, when Zlatan was still at Ajax at the start of his journey.

Peter Reid was in charge of Sunderland, while the Black Cats were looking at how to replace Niall Quinn.

The Times spoke to Mark Blackbourne, who recalled how the conversation between Ajax and Sunderland went:

“When we spoke with Beenhakker, we were told that they didn’t want to sell. But nevertheless we made an offer in the region of £3 million. Beenhakker rejected it, but we managed to extend the conversation, in which I found time to call my chairman Bob Murray. He said, ‘If you think one million more will do it, go for it.’

“I didn’t follow his instructions though, as I increased our offer with a couple of million, to an amount in excess of £5 million. We wanted the deal, and we believed the player was open for it.”

But Ajax maintain their stance and say that their striker is not for sale and Sunderland eventually settle for Tore Andre Flo and Marcus Stewart instead.

The full article is below.