Leeds United’s Australian great Tony Dorigo doesn’t expect Marcelo Bielsa to make a serious play for Zlatan Ibrahimovic, claiming the veteran Swedish striker doesn’t fit the Argentine’s all-action template.
Dave Lewis

1 Aug 2020 - 3:10 PM  UPDATED 1 Aug 2020 - 3:10 PM

Back in the Premier League after a 16-year absence, Leeds are looking to add firepower to their frontline, and have been heavily linked with the soon-to-be off-contract Ibrahimovic.

Whites owner Andrea Radrizzani had talks with Ibrahimovic, 38, before he left LA Galaxy for a second spell at the San Siro on a short-term deal at the turn of the year.

A return of ten goals in 19 games for the Rossoneri is proof that he continues to defy the ageing process.

Yet Adelaide-raised Dorigo - Leeds’ player of the year when they won their last top flight title back in 1991-92 - doesn’t see a Bielsa-Ibrahimovic partnership as a match made in heaven.

Now a UK-based TV pundit, Dorigo - who spent six seasons at Elland Road - told The World Game: “I’d be a little surprised if the club went for him.

“No disrespect to Zlatan - I love the guy and what he’s doing at his age is incredible.  

“His mental strength is second to none and it’s really impressive how he’s rallied that group of players at Milan since he’s arrived. 

“But, for Leeds, the outlay in wages would be huge and he might not be the best option.

“More importantly, the style Bielsa plays - a high-pressing, high-energy system - wouldn’t suit Zlatan. 

“At this stage of his career, he’s not going to go chasing that ball around, closing defenders down every single time. 

“That’s what Leeds do under Bielsa - and that’s why Patrick Bamford stays in the team even though he didn’t score as many as he should have done this season (16 goals in 45 games). I just don’t see the fit being perfect with Bielsa.”

Milan coach Stefano Pioli is keen to tie down Ibrahimovic for next season, and in a strong hint that may happen the ex-Manchester United man was pictured midweek modelling the team’s strip for next season during a glossy Puma promotion.

Dorigo, 54, has been bewitched, along with Leeds success-starved fans, by Bielsa and shares his football philosophy.

“I think the way we play - and way I like to see Leeds play - doesn’t accommodate an Ibrahimovic-type player,” he reiterated.

“Bielsa has a very clear style which doesn’t change. Some managers have plan A, plan B, plan C. We have plan A three times, home or away.

“The defence starts up top and that’s not going to change.

“I’d pay to watch Zlatan ... he has such character and he galvanises players around him.

“He has that martial arts background (kickboxing) which gives him great flexibility.

“His game, to be fair, was never about pure speed. But his mind is always three steps ahead of others.

“Some of the stuff he can do is amazing but sprinting 100 yards and chasing down fullbacks wouldn’t be something he'd particularly enjoy doing in his late 30s.

“The training regime under Bielsa is also a little eye-watering - and once he experienced that he might want to trot off somewhere else.

“The demands he places on players every single day is severe and you have to make big sacrifices.

“Zlatan has already done that - and it would be remarkable if he’d want to put himself through the rigours again. I just don’t see it.”

Whilst Ibrahimovic boasts of playing on into his 50s, Dorigo believes he certainly has “a couple of good years left in him at least”.

“So long he’s at the right club and the right surroundings he can do that,” he added.

“If you can get the ball within a yard of him he’ll make something happen. Simple as that.

“At his age, it’s all about desire. You’ve got to want to keep going and he’s still got that passion.”