Ibrahimovic backs Tonali to succeed at Newcastle and says he ‘feels sorry’ for Maldini after AC Milan exit

AC Milan feels a bit different to how it did just over a month ago with Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Sandro Tonali, Paolo Maldini and Frederic Massara all gone. The former has offered his thoughts on Tonali and Maldini's departures, as well as his own future.

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Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s time at AC Milan will be remembered fondly by many, headlined by his role in bringing the Serie A title back to the club on two occasions.

However, after his retirement, some may be worried about how the club will replace his influence and stature. In a recent interview, the striker revealed that the Rossoneri fans may not have seen the last of him.

The Swede has been vocal throughout his career, and his latest interview in Bergamo at a conference for the company Mind the Gum, was another example of his willingness to weigh in on many topics.

Ibrahimovic’s relationship with Maldini and the hole that will be left by him

Paolo Maldini and Zlatan Ibrahimovic. (@acmilan)

Ibrahimovic and Paolo Maldini were two huge names to depart Milan this summer, with the latter losing his job along with Frederic Massara.

Photographs emerged of Ibrahimovic and Maldini at a Coldplay concert at the San Siro the night prior to his interview, on which he said (via La Gazzetta dello Sport): “Yes, (we had) a nice hug… Actually, we only said a few words to each other.”

“I have a good relationship with him, we played against each other and I’m sorry that we were not together as a team. But we worked together, we won.” The pair only faced each other on the pitch 10 times across their careers, though never played for the same club, a regret for both.

“Then, for everything else, I don’t know what happened,” admitted the 41-year-old. “I’m sorry for Paolo, because he’s a reference point for Milan.”

Tonali’s move to the Premier League

AC Milan’s Sandro Tonali delivers a corner against Napoli. [@acmilan]

It was confirmed on Monday that the Italian had moved to Newcastle United, for a fee of around €70 million. Something that Ibrahimovic almost expected: “If he is ready for the Premier (League)? Yes, I think so. In England he’ll make it, and he’ll make it well.

“I made him understand the right mentality he must have to win, and he won,” Ibrahimovic added, before touching on the fact that Tonali isn’t a finished article just yet. “He’s grown a lot with Milan, he has a big responsibility and he still has to grow.”

What does the future hold for Zlatan?

Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Stefano Pioli. (@acmilan)

When asked about what comes next for him following his retirement, he said: “Right now I feel calm, very calm, and this surprises me because I didn’t think I would be so calm. I imagined I would be much more stressed. But feeling like this… it’s cool.” After all, this is the first time that the striker isn’t reporting for or preparing for a pre-season, in almost 25 years.

“I am proud that people want to see me back in Milan, even in another role. Milan has remained in my heart, what I’ve been through with this club is something that stays inside,” said Ibrahimovic whilst smiling.

He finished by jokingly teasing a return back to Casa Milan: “It’s only been three weeks, maybe I’ll come back to play, you never know. Maybe in a month, I’ll be in training camp with Milan…”

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