Laurent Blanc has lauded the “instrumental” impact of Zlatan Ibrahimovic at PSG as the club prepare to part ways with the colourful striker.
The 34-year-old forward is out of contract this summer and there has been plenty of speculation over what his next move will be. A post on his Twitter account on Friday morning at least made clear that he was nearing the end of his time with PSG.
Ibrahimovic – who has been linked with several English clubs including Manchester United and Arsenal as well as a move to Major League Soccer – is expected to play his last game for PSG when they face Marseille in the Coupe de France final at the Stade de France on May 21.
A calf problem, though, could yet scupper his involvement in the club’s remaining Ligue 1 fixture against Nantes this Saturday.
Blanc had retained hope that his talisman would agree another deal, but accepts the time was now right for everyone to move on.
Speaking at his scheduled pre-match press conference, the PSG manager said: “It’s a day that is of course a bit sad, but the project continues.
“Zlatan made us move forward hugely… the union is ending, but the club has to continue to move forward.”
Ibrahimovic has scored 46 goals in all competitions this term as PSG romped to the French title once again.
Blanc added: “There are many things to remember. First and above all, he is a fantastic player.
“The player I knew, the man a little less, but I had great admiration for (Zlatan) the man.
“He was a instrumental in the project of PSG, not only on the pitch but also in terms of image and of charisma.
“But above all, what I’ll remember is the competitor. I have seldom seen one like him.”
Ibrahimovic, who has been nursing his calf injury since coming off during the second half of the 1-1 draw at Bordeaux on Wednesday night, is one behind Carlos Bianchi’s long-standing club record of 37 league goals in a season.
Blanc accepts it will be difficult to hold the striker back from pushing himself to get fit for Saturday’s finale.
“I hope with all my heart that he can participate in that game, but I also told him not to do just anything because there is an important match against Marseille at the Stade de France next Saturday, and then the Euros with Sweden.
“But I don’t think he is going to listen to me, he will want to play in this game at all costs because he has great motivation and will want to break the record.”
Whatever happens next, there is no doubting the impact Ibrahimovic has had with PSG since joining from AC Milan in July 2012.
He is now the French club’s all-time top scorer with 152 goals and will leave with four Ligue 1 winners’ medals, three Coupe de la Ligue titles and at least one Coupe de France triumph.
Following his post on social media, which included a photo of the stadium, in a later statement on the club’s official website Ibrahimovic indicated he would return one day.
PSG suggested the Swede was already earmarked for a “senior position” within the management structure after retirement.
“The time has now come for me to take a new road. I want to thank my colleagues, the staff and everyone at the club,” Ibrahimovic said on www.psg.fr.
“I am very proud of these last four years. I loved every single day I spent here. PSG have become in these last years an internationally shining star club and I have played a major part in this transformation.
“This is not farewell, just goodbye. I came here as a king and I leave as a legend. But I will be back!”