PRINCETON, N.J. – Zlatan Ibrahimovic will be in Washington, D.C. after all.
And that's not all. He could also play.
The Paris Saint-Germain superstar was the main topic of conversation at Saturday’s pre-game press conference ahead of the Herbalife World Football Challenge match against Chelsea FC on Sunday night (7 p.m. ET, Fox Soccer). His new manager Carlo Ancelotti was very straightforward about his chances of debuting for PSG in DC.
“When he arrives he will train four days and we will see how he is. It is possible he can play 30 minutes or 40 minutes [on Saturday, July 28 vs. D.C. United] if he doesn't have a problem,” Ancelotti said, walking off the dais at the conclusion of the presser. "It could be. If he's in good condition, it could be that he can play.”
UPDATE: During a conference call with the media on Tuesday, July 24, Ancelotti revised his prediction for Ibrahimovic's playing time. "Ibrahimovic arrived right now at the hotel from Sweden and will start to train this afternoon. For the game on Saturday we have to check his physical condition, and if there are no problems, maybe he can play 40 or 45 minutes."The Italian manager revealed that Ibrahimovic, who was unveiled on Wednesday by his new club in Paris, would be joining the squad in the US on Tuesday, July 24.
It was evident from Saturday's presser that Ibrahimovic will be a lightning rod for attention this week. French media following the club on the tour asked a series of questions about the new star, from the controversy surrounding his salary figures – “The market decides the salary,” Ancelotti affirmed – and his reputation as a combustible figure in the locker room.
“Every club that I play with him, he has a good relationship with everybody and it will not be a problem,” said PSG defender Maxwell, who was a teammate of Ibrahimovic on three previous clubs. “Otherwise he would not be changing for big clubs and playing with big players. He has his ways. He’s a winner and doesn’t want to lose.”
Ancelotti, who spoke in French for the majority of the press conference, admitted not knowing Ibrahimovic personally. He revealed that their only encounter was a brief meeting while on vacation.
“I managed a lot of players and never had a problem with a player,” Ancelotti said. “And I think that with Ibrahimovic we will have a fantastic relationship because he is a winner and he is a professional player, and I like the professional players.
“Maybe he can have his character, but when one player works out on the pitch, it’s enough for me.”
That work on the pitch with other clubs has left enough of an impression on his new manager already. Ancelotti recalled how the Swede has inflicted his fair share of damage against clubs he has managed in recent years.
“He will be a fantastic player for us," Ancelotti continued. "And I think with Ibrahimovic we have a lot of possibility to do our best.”