Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s Hilarious Tale on How He Challenged Lionel Messi to Destroy Arsenal

Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s Hilarious Tale on How He Challenged Lionel Messi to Destroy Arsenal

Rene Otinga
updated at April 26, 2024 at 11:33 AM
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  • Zlatan Ibrahimovic had spent two years with Barcelona between 2009 and 2011
  • His brief stint at the Catalan club had some brilliant moments with Lionel Messi
  • The Swede gave a hilarious account of a conversation he had with the Argentine

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Zlatan Ibrahimovic is a modern football legend, no doubt.

However, even the greatest players have struggled at some point. For Ibrahimovic, it came when he played for Barcelona.

Lionel Messi, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, La Liga, Barcelona, Champions League, Arsenal.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Lionel Messi during a training session a day before their Champions League first leg semi-final match against Inter Milan on April 19, 2009. AFP PHOTO / Filippo MONTEFORTE.
Source: Getty Images

Known as a footballing nomad, the well-travelled Swede joined Barca in 2009 from Inter Milan, joining a side that was in somewhat of a transition under a young Pep Guardiola.

The striker made just 29 appearances in the La Liga for Barcelona, scoring 16 goals and getting nine assists.

One of his more memorable times as a Barcelona player was in the Champions League, and there is an interesting story about one particular tie in 2010.

Zlatan’s hilarious Messi story

As per Varksy Sports, the former PSG man gave a hilarious account of how he lectured a young Messi to ‘handle business’ in the Champions League against Arsenal.

In the first leg at the Emirates, Zlatan, in his prime at 29, scored twice in an entertaining Champions League quarter-final encounter that saw Barca come from two goals down to salvage a 2-2 draw.

"In 2010, before the Champions League return match against Arsenal, I suffered a right leg injury." Zlatan said, per Eurofoot.

Unfortunately, injury kept him out of the second leg, meaning Guardiola had to make adjustments at the Nou Camp in a bid to swing the tie in his favour.

Ibrahimovic knew about Messi’s talents and fancied the Argentine for the second leg.

He said, "Before the second leg, I went to see Messi and said: Listen little one, I will not play today and it is your turn to carry the team on your shoulder. I scored 2 beautiful goals in the first leg, so it’s your turn to finish the job!"

Messi masterclass vs Arsenal

We will never know whether Messi was inspired by his teammate’s challenge or not, but it is safe to say the Argentine delivered.

Messi left Arsenal fans more awed than distraught with a masterful performance, scoring four goals as Barcelona cruised to a 4-1 victory (6-3 on aggregate).

One of his goals scored on that fateful night on April 6 2010 is still remembered to this day as one of Messi’s best-ever strikes.

The Argentine’s display was so stellar that it was given a stamp of approval by Zlatan, who rarely gives any player other than himself credit.

“One of the best performances I saw. I went and told him: 'Congratulations, you were better than Zlatan.'"

Did that Barcelona team win the Champions League?

Despite having one of the most potent squads in Barcelona’s recent history, the Catalan giants fell short in the semis.

Jose Mourinho’s Inter Milan produced a defensive masterclass against Barca to knock the Spanish side out 3-2 on aggregate, according to UEFA.com.

Inter expertly protected their 3-1 first-leg win as they incurred one of the most ‘delightful’ defeats at the Nou Camp, losing 1-0.

This game marked the beginning of a rivalry between Pep Guardiola and Mourinho.

All 7 of Messi’s Puskas nominations

Sports Brief also reported on the seven occasions Messi has been nominated for the Puskas award but narrowly missed out.

Against the odds, the eight-time Ballon d’Or winner has never won the individual accolade, despite some extraordinary goals he has scored in his career.

Rene Otinga photo
Rene Otinga
Rene Otinga is a sports journalist with over eight years of working experience in digital media. Rene's experience includes working as a Copywriter at X News Kenya and TUKO.co.ke.