By North-west correspondent Alex Stevens
Zlatan Ibrahimovic is not among the top five forwards in world football, according to Rio Ferdinand, Paul Scholes and Michael Owen.
The BT Sport pundit trio agreed that Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Luis Suarez, Neymar and Sergio Aguero are all superior to the Paris Saint-Germain spearhead.
Ibrahimovic’s Paris Saint-Germain team are in Sweden on Wednesday night to face his former club Malmo for an eagerly-anticipated Champions League showdown.
On the day that the Swedish superstar revealed to CNN how close he was to joining Arsenal and Manchester City during his trophy-filled career, the TV pundits were asked where the 34-year-old stands among the best attackers in the game.
“I wouldn’t put him up there with Messi and Ronaldo, and I wouldn’t put him at the level of Suarez, Neymar and Aguero, to be honest,” Ferdinand told BT Sport Europe on Wednesday before the Champions League fixtures. “He has a massive ego and you need that from your No9s and No10s.
“But in this competition, when he has been needed at the knockout stage, I don’t think he has stepped up to the plate and been the man to drive them over the line.”
Paul Scholes agreed with the assessment of his former Manchester United colleague.
“He [Ibrahimovic] has been a brilliant centre-forward and you would like him in your team,” Scholes said. “He has won everything at all his clubs but does he do it often enough in the latter stages of this tournament? He has a fantastic record but there will always be the question can he do it in the semi-finals and final of the Champions League.”
Former striker Owen, who was a prolific scorer for England, Liverpool and Newcastle during his playing days, said: “I would have Suarez above him [Ibrahimovic], not to mention Messi and Ronaldo, although his record of winning everywhere he has been is phenomenal.”