Zlatan Ibrahimovic could not resist poking fun at Liverpool’s defensive injury crisis during a public appearance in Italy.
The former Manchester United striker appeared at the five-day Sanremo Festival, an awards ceremony, which also showcases unreleased songs.
The festival in north-western Italy lasts for six days and Ibrahimovic, wearing a tuxedo, was the sidekick to host Amadeus. Although Zlatan did not see himself as a sidekick during what he called the “Zlatan Festival”.
Ibrahimovic will sing with Bologna coach Sinisa Mihajlovic before the end of the festival on Saturday.
The Inter striker was the star on the opening night, which was covered on Italian TV, and he could not resist a swipe at Jurgen Klopp’s woes.
With 26 singers performing at the festival, Ibrahimovic mocked Liverpool’s crippling injury list when he suggested four of the artists could be sold to Liverpool so that it would be 11 v 11 on stage.
“First of all, the Zlatan Festival will have 22 singers,” he said. “Eleven against eleven otherwise it is not regulated.
“I’ll sell four since there are 26 singers in the competition, there is Liverpool looking for defenders, otherwise I’ll put them in the garden and let them work.
“The second rule concerns the stage, that’s not good, it’s made for little people like you (addressed to host Amadeus).
“I need 105 by 68 meters like San Siro, otherwise the Festival is cancelled for me.”
Klopp’s injury problems in defence at Liverpool have been well documented. First Virgil van Dijk was ruled out for the season before Joe Gomez and Joel Matip followed.
Fabinho, who has filled in admirably, has only just returned to training from his latest setback. While skipper Jordan Henderson has since been ruled out of action until April.
Henderson, who has also played as a centre-back, picked up a groin injury against Everton and will be sidelined until after the March international break.
Enrique questions signings
Meanwhile, former Liverpool defender Jose Enrique has criticised the club’s transfer activity in January.
He believes their decision to sign Ben Davies rather than a world-class centre-back may have cost them the title.
Liverpool have struggled in their title defence this season. A number of injuries to key defensive players has been a major issue.
With Virgil van Dijk, Joe Gomez and Joel Matip all out with long-term injuries, Liverpool could have spent big on a defender in January. Instead, they signed Ozan Kabak on loan from Schalke and completed a cheap deal to sign Ben Davies from Championship side Preston.
However, Enrique thinks the signing of Davies was unnecessary. The former left-back claims that Liverpool should not have been looking at Championship players given their targets.
He told Empire of the Kop: “At the start of January, Liverpool were in a good position to still fight for the title.
“We got two players, one on loan and one from the Championship on deadline day. But I’ve never seen Davies play.”