Milan legend Paolo Maldini has dismissed suggestions Zlatan Ibrahimovic is bigger than the club.
Ibrahimovic has been a revelation since returning to Milan for a second spell in late December 2019, with the evergreen 39-year-old spearheading the club’s Scudetto charge this term.
The former Manchester United and Paris Saint-Germain striker – out of contract at the end of this season – has scored 14 Serie A goals in 2020-21 to help Milan up to second position, six points adrift of city rivals Inter.
Maldini is now technical director at Milan and rates Ibrahimovic as a “huge resource”, but he believes the club sit well positioned to withstand the Swede’s departure if he does not extend his contract at San Siro.
“The truth is, the club is above any player because the players pass through, and the club remains,” Maldini told So Foot.
“There are players who leave a different mark than others, and Zlatan is one of them.
— AC Milan (@acmilan) March 10, 2021
“He’s a motivator. He’s a character that can seem complicated to deal with, but for those who manage to draw all of his qualities, he’s a huge resource.
“The club is above any player, and that goes for everyone, because it comes from our way of being leaders in our field.”
Milan’s excellent season has given them a chance of securing a first Serie A title since the 2010-11 campaign, while they are on course to return to the Champions League for the first time since 2013-14 when they were knocked out in the last 16 by Atletico Madrid.
Despite their lengthy absence from European football’s showpiece competition, Italy and Rossoneri great Maldini is adamant Milan are still a hugely attractive proposition for new players.
“Trust me, Milan haven’t qualified for the Champions League for eight years, but when Milan call, players around the world are still dreaming,” he said.
“Of course, we are looking to the future, but the past, which we must respect, matters. When your name is Milan and you call a player, you are one of the three most successful clubs in the world. We must always remember this.
“I believe that Milan, in Italy without the slightest doubt and in Europe as well, is considered a virtuous club.”
Milan faced Manchester United in the first leg of their Europa League last-16 clash on Thursday, and they host Napoli in Serie A on Sunday.