Zlatan Ibrahimovic considers himself ‘the best player in the world’

Zlatan Ibrahimovic believes he should be considered the equal of Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi in the debate over the world’s greatest player.

The 39-year-old Swedish striker, still going strong at AC Milan, has enjoyed a hugely successful career at nine clubs in seven countries, scoring 502 goals.

Yet despite never winning the Champions League or the Ballon d’Or – honours won multiple times by both Ronaldo and Messi – Ibrahimovic says he shouldn’t be regarded as inferior to them.

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Zlatan Ibrahimovic considers himself the equal of Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi

Ibrahimovic wrestles with Cristiano Ronaldo during a meeting between AC Milan and Juventus

The Swedish striker was briefly the team-mate of Lionel Messi during his time at Barcelona

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‘If you’re talking about intrinsic qualities, I have nothing less than them,’ he told France Football magazine.

‘If you look at the trophies… yes, I didn’t win the Champions League.

‘But I don’t know how you calculate it. I’m not obsessed with it because when you do good things collectively, the individual follows. The individual cannot be good if the collective is not good.

‘[Do] I miss the Ballon d’Or? No, it is the Ballon d’Or that misses me! Deep down, I think I’m the best player in the world.

‘I don’t think it’s relevant to compare players with each other. Everyone has played in their generation, with different team-mates… [it is] difficult to compare. I think everyone has their story and should face it.’

Ibrahimovic watches from the stands as AC Milan beat Cagliari 4-1 in their last league match

Despite playing for the likes of Juventus, Inter Milan, AC Milan, Barcelona, Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester United, Ibrahimovic has never succeeded in winning the Champions League.

Milan will play in Europe’s top competition this season for the first time since 2013-14, but Ibrahimovic is fast running out of opportunities to win it as he approaches 40.

They have been paired with Atletico Madrid, Liverpool and Porto in a tricky group.

He hasn’t played for Milan yet this season but they won their two opening Serie A matches against Sampdoria and Cagliari. They host Lazio on Sunday.

Man United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer welcomes Cristiano Ronaldo back to the club

Lionel Messi made his Paris Saint-Germain debut against Reims before the internationals 

Ronaldo, meanwhile, is poised to make the first appearance of his second spell at Manchester United when they host Newcastle United in the Premier League on Saturday afternoon.

He returned to the Old Trafford club after leaving Juventus in a deal worth an initial £12.85m.

Messi also moved over the summer, signing for PSG from Barcelona. He made his debut for the club against Reims before the international fortnight.

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  • Zlatan Ibrahimovic : « Je veux juste disparaître et profiter de ma vie » – L’Équipe