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Zlatan Ibrahimovic returns to the Swedish national team at 41

Zlatan Ibrahimovic has received a call-up to Sweden’s 2024 European Championship qualifiers against Belgium and Azerbaijan later this month.

The 41-year-old only returned to action weeks ago after almost a year out of action. The former Ajax star underwent surgery at the end of last season after helping the Rossoneri win their first Scudetto in 11 years.

AC Milan coach Stefano Pioli has used him as a substitute in their last few games.

Ibrahimovic played some minutes of the recent games against Atalanta, Fiorentina and Salernitana. He is gradually returning to his best after a long road to recovery.

However, the former Barcelona and Inter Milan striker has not started a game since January 2022 against Venezia.

Following the Salernitana game, Pioli declared that Ibrahimovic was not ready to start a game. He is still not 100% fit, but his national team coach is aware.

Sweden coach Janne Andersson confirmed the call-up (via MilanNews): “Zlatan and I have always been in contact, including during his injury.

“Now he feels good – he can give his contribution on the pitch. His personality and experience also add a lot to the team.

“He’s unique in that sense, but the idea is that he comes in and contributes to the pitch – otherwise I wouldn’t have called him up.

“I don’t see him as a starter. He’ll be more like he’s used to at Milan for in-game situations. Then it depends on how things are in the games and on his possibilities.

“Zlatan is very eager and wants to contribute. That’s how it is today – then we’ll see how he plays out in the future.”

Ibrahimovic quit the Swedish national team in 2016 after the European Championship that year but returned in 2022 for their unsuccessful World Cup qualifiers.

He remains Sweden’s all-time top scorer with 62 goals in 121 games. However, he has faced criticism for not taking them far into any international tournaments despite his record.

The Milan forward is one of the best strikers of his generation. He has scored over 500 goals, winning over 30 titles, but none with his national team.

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