Arsenal target Benjamin Sesko loved Man Utd icon and brutally refused dad's career advice

Benjamin Sesko celebrates
-Credit: (Image: AFP via Getty Images)

Benjamin Sesko has explained how Zlatan Ibrahimovic helped inspire him to dismiss his father's wishes regarding his football path.

Sesko - who will reportedly shun Manchester United to join Arsenal this summer - sprouted early as a youngster and started his career as a goalkeeper. The player's dad played between the posts as an amateur in his hometown, Radece, but the Slovenian was converted to move outfield after becoming infatuated with Ibrahimovic's style of play as a kid.

The RB Leipzig frontman advanced to play in central defence but couldn't curb his enthusiasm for going forward. That hunger for goals eventually resulted in him moving up to a frontman role, and it appears to have been justified amid talk of a £45million move to the Premier League.

Sesko's path to becoming a prolific striker was almost derailed by father Ales, a former goalkeeper who hoped his son would follow in his footsteps. In a 2023 interview with The Guardian (via the Mirror), Sesko recounted how he convinced his dad that being a keeper wasn't for him.

"He was the same height as me and we played a lot of football together," he said at the time. "At the start he wanted me to be a keeper too but I said to him, 'Look, it's really boring, I can't do it any more!"

After briefly flirting with a defensive role, Sesko's knack for finding the back of the net saw him progressively move upfield, an evolution influenced by his admiration for former United hotshot Ibrahimovic. He confessed: "I was playing centre-back and I always took the ball and tried to score goals. It was always goals, goals, goals and that's why I became a striker. Zlatan Ibrahimovic was my idol.

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"I'm not saying I play like him but he was having fun, enjoying himself on the pitch, doing what he wanted to do. It makes me really happy when I see that kind of player. Every single video I could find, I was looking at him."

Long linked with a switch to the Gunners, Sesko has continued the goal-scoring prowess he showed at Red Bull Salzburg, making a name for himself in Germany. The Leipzig sensation made waves in his debut Bundesliga season, netting 18 times in all competitions and helping his team lift the DFL Supercup with a convincing victory over Bayern Munich.

LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 26: Zlatan Ibrahimovic of Manchester United celebrates after scoring to make it 3-2 during the EFL Cup Final match between Manchester United and Southampton at Wembley Stadium on February 26, 2017 in London, England. (Photo by Catherine Ivill - AMA/Getty Images)
Sesko looked up to Zlatan Ibrahimovic as a youngster -Credit:(Photo by Catherine Ivill - AMA/Getty Images)

Despite making only 17 league starts this term, Sesko finished the campaign on fire and became the youngest player to score in seven consecutive Bundesliga matches. That proved pivotal to Leipzig's Champions League qualification as they finished fourth in the table.

The young forward also touched on his relentless drive for perfection and the never-ending search for goals, adding: "I'm very happy on this stage and want to score more and more, sometimes I have to stop myself and say, 'Look, this can take time and then it's going to work.' But I'm really, really happy with the start."