Milan fans had feared that they might not see Ibrahimovic play for them again after the Sweden legend returned to his homeland with a suspected calf injury, where he has been for almost a month with news of his progress unclear.

The transformative influence on what had been a dire season for the Italian giants had signed a contract that was due to expire next week, well after the scheduled end of the season.

The suspension of the Serie A season by more than three months as a result of the Coronavirus means Milan have almost a third of their league season still to play, leading the club to agree new deals for the final 12 matches with Ibrahimovic and five other stars.

“For champions like him there is always room,” Milan Sports Manager Ricky Massara told Sky Italia, discussing the impact of the man who has scored four goals and set up another since his surprise arrival in December.

“Zlatan is a champion who wanted to help Milan in a difficult moment. He returned with passion and love towards the club and changed and improved the team.”

Milan were hammered 5-0 at Champions League quarter-finalists Atalanta to continue a miserable season before signing the former Manchester United forward, only to embark on an impressive run that has included just two defeats in 13 matches, one of which was at title contenders and arch-rivals Inter Milan when they had been 2-0 up at half-time.

A one-year extension to Ibrahimovic’s contract would have been activated had Milan reached the unlikely heights of a Champions League qualification place, but their vastly improved form with his presence, which could well culminate in qualification for the Europa League, has driven talk of a further extension to his stay.

“We will evaluate with him if there are opportunities to move forward together,” Massara said of the talisman who will turn 39 in October. “We have an agreement with the six players to extend until August.

“It will depend on how he feels, if he wants to continue and what the conditions are to continuing together. But there can be no team without Ibrahimovic because he is a fantastic player.”

Milan looked set to continue their progress in Ibrahimovic’s continued absence on Monday night, taking a 4-1 lead in the second half at lowly Lecce.

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