Sweden’s all-time top scorer was considered to have been at his peak when he scored 57 times in 88 appearances for Inter between 2006 and 2009 and improved on that strike rate when he signed for AC Milan after a season at Barcelona.
Ibrahimovic’s 42 goals in 61 matches earned him exalted status with the Rossoneri, although the chances of him scoring the required eight goals to reach 50 after he rejoined the club in December seemed slim given Milan’s poor first half of the campaign.
Now Ibrahimovic has gone one better with a match of the season to spare, scoring his eighth and ninth goals in only his 17th game since his return to reach 50 across both of his spells in a red and black shirt at the San Siro.
“I’m like Benjamin Button,” he told Milan TV after helping his side win 4-1 at Sampdoria, likening himself to the fictional character who ages backwards.
“I’ve always been young, never old. I still have the strength to score so I hope to continue like this. They tell me that I’m old and tired but I’m barely warming up.
“I have said that since I arrived and I keep it up. In a league like Serie A, it is difficult to find several scoring opportunities. You need to take advantage of what you have.”
Milan secured Europa League football next season with a fourth win in five as part of a 12-match run since lockdown, capping a resurgence since the surprise signing of the 38-year-old that has seen them rise from the bottom half of the table to the top six.
The forward was voted man of the match by a landslide as he scored his second successive away double in an individual performance described as “complete” by Milan’s website, which added: “Ibra dominated out on the pitch and pulled the whole squad towards the victory.”
His header set up Hakan Calhanoglu for Milan’s second and he created four chances while completing all of his dribbles, as well as scoring his quickest goal for the club – finding the net after little more than three minutes – and playing the least amount of games of any Serie A player to have scored at least eight times this season.
Ibrahimovic is now 40th position on the all-time scorers list in Serie A, although there is some doubt over his future in Italy with the likes of Premier League newcomers Leeds reportedly interested in his signature.
He was seen taking a helicopter from Milan’s training ground to the home of agent Mino Raiola last week and modelled the club’s new home shirt for next season alongside his teammates in a cinematic teaser filmed in the oldest shopping mall in Italy.
Ibrahimovic has admitted that he is more likely to stay after Milan coach Stefano Pioli signed a new contract. “I’m happy for him because he did a great job,” he said after Milan’s 18th win of the season.
“I can say only positive things. He worked under pressure without knowing the future. He deserved this – it was not an easy situation. The team believes in him a lot and I respect him.
“He did a great job and the renewal is deserved. When you work hard, you always get something back.”