Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp has warmly applauded the longevity of AC Milan star Zlatan Ibrahimovic – but the veteran Swede will miss out on a return to English football having sustained an injury ruling him out against the Reds.
The 39-year-old made his first appearance since May over the weekend following knee surgery. And Ibrahimovic showed he’s still got it by netting in their 2-0 win over Lazio after stepping off the bench.
Indeed, the former Manchester United was then expected to come into contention for the clash with Liverpool. Ibrahimovic was competing with Olivier Giroud and Ante Rebic for a start up front in the Champions League clash at Anfield.
However, Milan have confirmed that the veteran Swede will not travel to Anfield for the match. Having sustained tightness in his Achilles, the striker looks likely to cruelly miss out on a return to the north-west.
Nonethess, Klopp, who also admitted his admiration for Milan, could not resist paying a rich tribute to his talents.
And the Reds boss is in awe of a player still playing at the very top level approaching his 40th birthday.
“He’s the man for exceptional moments in a game,” Klopp said.
“If he’s not playing the probably Olivier Giroud is playing, or Rebic is playing, or whatever; all slightly different profile, but all really good. It will be absolutely interesting.
“But Zlatan is, for sure, one of the best players ever in this game.
“He knows that and he says that, I like that about him. That’s the confidence he brings into all the game.
“That he’s still physically that fit is absolutely incredible and just shows maybe some careers ended too early, because there was still a little bit of fuel in the tank.
“He squeezes every drop out of his body. He wants to stay in the game as long as possible – and rightly so, he is absolutely capable of playing in each league in the world still.”
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Milan also have Sandro Tonali doubt
Zlatan isn’t the only injury doubt the Italians have ahead of the match at Anfield.
Indeed, impressive midfielder Sandro Tonali is also struggling for fitness, having missed training on Tuesday due to illness.
The Italy midfielder – once linked with a move to Anfield – will make the journey and will be assessed on the day.
Milan, however, do include Franck Kessie. His is another name reportedly being considered by Liverpool with regards a future transfer.
The Ivorian midfielder is out of contract next summer, having been strongly linked with a move to the Premier League.
However, in the absence of Ibrahimovic, Stefano Pioli is likely to deploy a 4-2-3-1 formation. Giroud is likely to lead the line with support from Rebic, Rafael Leao and Brahim Diaz.
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