Zlatan… Footballer, Icon, Global Brand


When athletes begin to be widely known by their first name only, you know they have reached a status level reserved for only the most elite. At 38 years of age, Zlatan Ibrahimovic may no longer be at the pinnacle of his playing career, but he is certainly at the apex of a professional career that extends across a variety of platforms.

A social media titan, Zlatan boasts over 70 million followers across Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. He is a savvy self-promoter, often using his personal platforms to break news of his own imminent movements. 

Just last week, the Swedish striker joined Serie A club AC Milan, his tenth professional transfer but the first time he has returned to play for a team he previously represented. The move came after a successful two-season stint at Major League Soccer’s LA Galaxy, where he scored 52 goals over 56 games and was named to the MLS Best XI in both 2018 and 2019. His No. 9 jersey was the league’s top seller both years.

As he often does, Zlatan has creatively reinvented himself and his image, revealing his new AC Milan No. 21 jersey in a social media blitz. At his official presentation in Milan, Zlatan boasted that he had more offers at 38 years of age than he did when he was 28.

An entrepreneurial heavyweight, Zlatan has been a spokesperson for some of the world’s most recognized brands, including Nike, Samsung, Visa, Volvo and Microsoft XBox. However, not all his financial investments have been successful. In 2016, he started his own clothing line, A-Z Sportswear but was forced to shut it down two years later after accumulating substantial losses. Recently, he purchased an equity stake in the top tier Swedish club, Hammarby.

According to money.com, Zlatan’s net worth in 2019 was estimated to be approximately $190M, making him the 5th richest footballer in the world.

As so many athletes in other sports have done in this digital age, Zlatan has crafted his own unique brand, recognized and acknowledged by a global audience. He often appears in corporate videos that promote his larger-than-life persona. 

He has appeared on countless magazine covers, from traditional football magazines like FourFourTwo to multiple international editions of GQ to ESPN’s best selling Body Issue.

His return to AC Milan sparked a media frenzy with news of his signing filling the void while action in Serie A was halted during the traditional Christmas break.

Though he signed only a six-month contract, worth about $4M, AC Milan hold an option to extend the deal into next season. If he chooses to remain in Serie A, he will undoubtedly help boost the league’s profile and its popularity across the globe. If he chooses however to once again become a free agent at the end of the current Serie A season, there is no question he will command interest from clubs around the world.

While he may be nearing the end of his playing career, Zlatan’s earning potential as a brand ambassador and spokesperson is virtually limitless as he continues to explore new investment opportunities while maintaining a high profile as a player.




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