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Zlatan Ibrahimović's transfer to Paris Saint-Germain FC from AC Milan was perhaps the most intriguing signing of the summer. A bold move by PSG, it was a dramatic, expensive statement of intent that proves the club's stated goal – winning the UEFA Champions League by 2015 – is no idle rhetoric.
Although the capital side flirted with relegation in 2007/08, their new Qatari owners, who took over in May 2011, were inspired by the glorious 1990s when PSG won Ligue 1, the UEFA Cup Winners' Cup and reached five consecutive European semi-finals from 1993 to 1997.
This time, the Ligue 1 title – set to arrive, according to the plan, in 2013 – is but the first step. Signing the 30-year-old Sweden striker is, the owners firmly believe, a transformational transfer.
Other new players – Thiago Silva, Ezequiel Lavezzi, Lucas Moura and Marco Verratti – promptly followed as PSG continued to turn heads. For sports director Leonardo, the message is clear: "Now we're here too, and you will have to reckon with us."
The former Brazilian international, and erstwhile PSG midfielder, regards Ibrahimović as the face of the Parisian outfit's new dawn. "He is the perfect signing," said Leonardo. "Zlatan will raise the level of the team and develop the club's image. We can talk about [Lionel] Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, but they are nothing like Ibrahimović."
With their target man in place, PSG feel more confident about hitting their targets in the coming years.
Every football club is different. What are your initial impressions of PSG?
Zlatan Ibrahimović: It's very exciting. Everything is new to me, as it is for the club – in the sense they are becoming big and powerful, signing big players, great players, and they want to win big trophies. They have a big dream and I am happy to be part of that. I have got to know my team-mates on the pitch.
Can you explain why PSG are the right club at this stage in your career?
Ibrahimović: I believe their dreams can come true and I want to be part of that. They are collecting all the big players together and want to create a big team. It means the French league will become more attractive, more exciting and the standard will rise. Who wouldn't want to be a part of that?
I have only positive things to say about Milan, but the future is here. I believe in it, that's why I came to Paris. Where else would I want to be?
Your coach Carlo Ancelotti wanted to sign you for Milan in 2006. How important was he in persuading you to move?
Ibrahimović: It's destiny. We were close in 2006 and something could have happened in 2010. We were far away, but it could have happened; now, finally, we are working together. He played a big part, absolutely. I talked to him before I came and he convinced me, telling me it was a fantastic opportunity. Everything he told me would happen is what I am seeing now.
Paris is world famous for its history, monuments, glamour ... but not really for its football. Will that change?
Ibrahimović: Every big city needs a big football team. The city is there already and now the team are catching up, striving to be on the same level. It is up to us now to go out and win. We can't complain about Paris, because that's an advantage for every player who comes to this club.
The team have to grow, play together and win matches. It will take time to reach the level of the top clubs because everything is new here, but it's the aim of the club and we have every opportunity to make that happen.
One competition you haven't won is the UEFA Champions League. Did you move to PSG to conquer Europe?
Ibrahimović: I wouldn't have come here if I didn't believe PSG could win the Champions League. It's true I have never won it, but I'm not desperate. Winning trophies comes with great players and I've won a lot because I've played with great players who have helped me. I am with great players now. You will never win big trophies on your own, that's for sure.
Do you have a message for all those PSG fans who rushed to buy season tickets and expect so much so quickly?
Ibrahimović: Believe in the team. We will be exciting to watch because we have such fantastic players and a fantastic coach. It's up to us now to give something back. A lot of those supporters have been coming to the stadium for a long time and waiting for the team to win something. I believe that time has come. This is the moment.
Last season was your most prolific with 28 goals in Serie A. Are you at your peak?
Ibrahimović: I'm becoming a better player every year. I was top scorer in Serie A and broke the record in Milan for most goals scored in a season, but I didn't win anything. The question is: "Am I happy?" I'd rather win something playing badly than play well and not win anything – that's my mentality.
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