Only Brazil legend Ronaldo and Dutch icon Marco van Basten sit ahead of Zlatan Ibrahimovic when it comes to the “best No.9s of the last 30 years”, says the Swede’s former AC Milan team-mate Antonio Cassano.
A return to San Siro is being made by the mercurial frontman following the expiration of his contract at MLS side the LA Galaxy.
After much speculation regarding his next move, the 38-year-old has decided to head back to familiar surroundings as he returns to European football from an American adventure.
Cassano is convinced that Ibrahimovic can thrive back in Italy despite his advancing years.
The former Juventus and Inter frontman showed no sign of slowing down in the States and remains an impressive physical specimen who never has any problems when it comes to self belief.
Ibrahimovic has enjoyed a remarkable career at the very highest level, with trophies collected across spells in the Netherlands, Italy, Spain, France and England.
A standing among the all-time greats is already safely secured, with Cassano admitting there are few forwards who can claim to have got close to the enigmatic striker in recent times.
A man who once graced the same Milan side as Ibrahimovic told Sky Sport Italia: “I expected this return, as I always said that if he came back to Italy, it would be for Milan. He is very fond of the city and this club.
“After Ronaldo and Marco van Basten, I’d say Ibrahimovic is the best Number 9 of the last 30 years. He’s still phenomenal, despite his age.
“Zlatan makes his team-mates give 110 per cent and can still make the difference in Serie A. He’ll have to, because 80-85% of the current squad do not deserve to be at Milan.
“I am sure Ibra will get the best out of them, because if they don’t give 100% in every training session, he raises his voice. When he does that, you’d better be scared.
“I also have faith in Paolo Maldini and Zvonimir Boban, they deserve more patience. They’ve got Ibra now, there is talk of Jean-Clair Todibo from Barcelona, so I think Milan can get back to the top in two-three years.”
During a first spell with the Rossoneri between 2010 and 2012, Ibrahimovic recorded 56 goals in 85 appearances and added another Serie A title success to his collection.