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Sweden confirm Ibrahimovic international comeback ahead of Euro 2020

(Getty Images)

Zlatan Ibrahimovic has been called up by Sweden for the World Cup qualifiers against Kosovo and Georgia, paving the way for him to play at Euro 2020 this year.

The Milan striker has not played for his country since retiring from international football after the Euro 2016 finals, but he recently held talks with Sweden coach Janne Andersson about a comeback.

That has now come to fruition, with Ibrahimovic posting a picture on Twitter of himself in a Sweden shirt, adding the caption: "The return of the God."

Nobody rates Ibrahimovic as highly as he rates himself, but the 39-year-old is Sweden's record scorer with 62 international goals and his form in Serie A this season has been remarkable, with 14 goals in as many games.

Providing he was serious about returning to duty for his country, his inclusion became a gift that Andersson could not resist.

Andersson said of the selection: "First and foremost, he is a very good football player, the best we have had in Sweden.

"It is of course very interesting that he wants to come back. In addition to what he can contribute on the pitch, he has incredible experience and can contribute it to other players in the team."

Ibrahimovic has scored 16 goals across all competitions this season, despite making just 19 starts and two substitute appearances for Milan.

He helped the Rossoneri lead the way in the Scudetto race until they were recently overtaken by city rivals Inter.

Acquired in December 2019 after a two-season stint in MLS with LA Galaxy, Ibrahimovic has re-emerged late in his career as a player capable of sparking life in a team.

Milan were uplifted by his arrival and now Sweden could also reap the benefit of his involvement.

Whether Ibrahimovic is considering being a part of the Sweden squad through to the World Cup at the end of next year remains to be seen. He will be 41 years old by the time of that tournament in Qatar.

However, it appeared unlikely they would parachute him in just for the Euro 2020 finals, with Tuesday's announcement allowing him to become part of the unit before the tournament.

Andersson said: "We have to start by focusing 100 per cent on the first matches we have now. If there is one thing I think we have been good at so far, it is to take one match at a time, and then look further towards the next match."

Sweden's players are due to gather on Monday, with a home game against Georgia on March 25 followed by a trip to face Kosovo on March 28. They also have an international friendly following the World Cup qualifiers, against Estonia on March 31.

Providing he is healthy enough, Ibrahimovic looks sure to add to his 116 caps at some stage across those games.

Andersson said he and Ibrahimovic had "a great conversation" in November, which convinced the coach the comeback was a serious consideration for the former Paris Saint-Germain, Barcelona and Manchester United forward.

Ibrahimovic has endured injury trouble since then but is reportedly hopeful of being involved when Milan face United this week in the second leg of their Europa League last-16 tie.

The delayed Euro 2020 finals, set back a year because of the COVID-19 crisis, are due to run from June 11 to July 11, with Sweden in a first-round group also containing Spain, Poland and Slovakia.

"Because he is part of this squad, he is highly relevant for the European Championship as well," Andersson said, when asked about Ibrahimovic in a news conference. "He has said yes and that also includes the European Championship."

Andersson added in a news conference, according to Aftonbladet: "Zlatan is still one of the world's best forwards and is in my opinion by far Sweden's best football player of all time. He has a lot of experience that we in the national team will enjoy.

"What we talked about stays between us when it comes to detail. What we have talked about we agree on.

"What is interesting is that he has changed clubs a number of times during his career. This is our club that he has not been to before, now he is with us and will add something to what we have."

Source Omnisport