Zlatan Ibrahimovic hailed a 'champion' by Pioli after AC Milan heroics

Zlatan Ibrahimovic hailed as a ‘champion’ after surpassing 500-goal mark in his club career, as AC Milan boss Stefano Pioli expresses desire to keep the striker at the San Siro until he’s FORTY-ONE after his ‘contract signing’ celebration

  • Zlatan Ibrahimovic stole the show once again as AC Milan beat Crotone 4-0
  • The strike reached the 500-goal mark in his club career with a brace at San Siro
  • After his second goal, it was interpreted that he made a contract gesture to club 
  • The Sweden striker’s contract is set to expire at the end of the campaign 

AC Milan boss Stefano Pioli has spoken of his desire for Zlatan Ibrahimovic to extend his stay at the club after making yet more history on Sunday.

Ibrahimovic surpassed the 500-goal mark in his illustrious club career as Milan remained at the summit of the Serie A table thanks to a 4-0 victory over Crotone at San Siro.

Ibrahimovic scored twice for Milan and after his second goal, the 501st of his career, he was caught on camera making a gesture towards the stands – where directors Paolo Maldini and Ricky Massara were sitting.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic has now scored 501 club goals after netting a brace on Sunday for AC Milan

In an apparent message to the board, Ibrahimovic waved one finger in the air followed by another, perhaps signalling the number of goals he had scored.

But Sky Sport Italia interpreted it as a contract message to the board – claiming that he wants another year or even two at the San Siro, which would see him stay put until he is 41, with his current deal expiring at the end of the season.

And speaking following the final whistle on Sunday, Milan manager Pioli hailed the veteran Swedish striker as a ‘champion’ before admitting he hopes he remains at the club.

‘Seeing how Ibra trains, we can’t be surprised, because he’s a champion,’ Pioli told Sky Sport Italia. ‘It’s difficult to maintain his current form, as when he’s been in shape and started, he almost always scored two goals, but this is what he’s like.’ 

When asked about the gesture towards the stands, Pioli responded: ‘Zlatan is happy with us and I think the best thing about this team is that the players are happy. 

It has been interpreted that Ibrahimovic made a contract gesture after his second goal by putting two fingers in the air as he looked up towards the club’s directors in the stands

‘We are with a huge club, everyone wants to do well and I think it’s right that he continues playing, and that he does it with us.

‘He is an athlete who is highly motivated, is scrupulous in the way he looks after his body with everything from diet to recovery. He’s tired, but you don’t stay at this level for this long without looking after yourself.

‘It’s almost a race nowadays between the players to get to training early and leave later than anyone else. We’re enjoying ourselves and want to give our best.’

Ibrahimovic’s latest heroics for Milan have kept them two points clear at the top of Serie A after 21 matches.

Pioli’s side sit just above arch rivals Inter Milan with the two Italian giants meeting in a crunch Serie A clash on February 21.

AC are looking to capture their first Serie A title since the 2010-11 season, with Juventus having won the last nine crowns. 

Stefano Pioli has hailed Ibrahimovic a ‘champion’ after he made even more history on Sunday

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