What If: Arsene Wenger had offered Zlatan Ibrahimovic a contract instead of a trial
Arsene Wenger has always had a shrewd way of operating in terms of transfers and has a keen eye for developing young talent. But he’s made quite a few blunders in his managerial career at Arsenal. Whether it was due to the financial limitations brought upon the club by the significant development costs of the new stadium, or just a lack of willingness to go ahead with a deal, Wenger has missed out on world-class talent in the form of Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale and Zlatan Ibrahimovic amongst a host of others.
An opportunity of such magnitude has the capability to transform a portion of a club’s future. As Manchester United’s Class of 92 began disintegrating and moving past their peak, Sir Alex Ferguson stocked his squad up with England’s best attacking youngster in Wayne Rooney and a Portuguese with world class talent, Ronaldo.
Similarly, if the Swedish icon had indeed signed with Arsenal when the opportunity arose in 2000, Arsenal could have had a different history timeline. Here are a few alternative and hypothetical scenarios that could have been true:
#1 Fallout over the lack of games
It’s hard to picture a scenario in which Ibrahimovic wouldn’t be the first choice striker at a club. Ever since his first year at Ajax, he has established himself as the striker up front. But at the start of the century, Arsenal were the English heavyweights alongside Manchester United.
And in order to maintain the level, Arsene Wenger had signed Arsenal legend, Thierry Henry a year ago. With Thierry Henry hitting the ground running immediately and with the presence of Dennis Bergkamp in the team, a breakthrough would have been particularly tough for the Swede.
If Zlatan could reject Arsene Wenger because he was asked to join for a trial, it would be particularly hard for him to sit outside the first team or even on loan. Hence, due to the Swede’s immense ego and arrogance, it would have lead to a fallout.