It is not every day that one of the world’s biggest soccer players sings live for four nights at a music festival – but that’s what will happen in the small Italian town of Sanremo next as Zlatan Ibrahimovic tries to hit new high notes.
Ever since the AC Milan striker was announced as a guest of the Sanremo Music Festival, which runs between March 2-6 in Liguria, his pending appearance has dominated the headlines – with some people criticising the decision amid a busy Serie A schedule.
The front page of Wednesday’s Italian newspaper Gazzetta dello Sport joked “watch out for the bum note”, in reference to Bologna manager Sinisa Mihajlovic, who will sing a duet with Ibrahimovic, labelling the Swede a “terrible singer” last week.
Two former Italy coaches have been critical of the 39-year-old Ibrahimovic’s involvement.
“He wanted to go there,” Fabio Capello told Sky Sport Italia last week. “But being a professional who wants to convey seriousness and commitment during training, this is a contradiction, in my opinion.”
Former Milan coach Arrigo Sacchi also put the blame on Ibrahimovic, despite the Swede having signed the contract to appear at Sanremo before his renewal with Milan was agreed last summer.
“The team comes first, always,” Sacchi told Gazzetta on Monday. “It should be Ibra who declined to appear.”
Former Milan president Silvio Berlusconi questioned the club’s stance on the event.
“Evidently, Ibra needed to rest, because without this possibility I would not be able to understand how Milan may have consented to a request of this kind,” he told reporters this week.
Ibrahimovic is Milan’s top goalscorer this campaign (14), as Stefano Pioli’s side remain in with a chance of winning a first Serie A title in a decade, trailing leaders and city rivals Inter Milan by four points after 23 games.
The trip to Italian Riviera comes during a busy week in Serie A, with Milan playing Udinese next Wednesday, before travelling to Veneto to take on Hellas Verona the following Sunday.
Milan told Reuters Ibrahimovic’s appearance at the festival will not rule him out of either game.
The Swede will be on stage every night at the festival except Wednesday when he will travel back to Milan for the Udinese match.