Zlatan Ibrahimovic praises ‘great talent’ Anthony Elanga and offers Manchester United star advice

Elanga could make his Sweden debut during the international break

Harry Latham-Coyle
Wednesday 23 March 2022 10:31 GMT
Zlatan Ibrahimovic's return to AC Milan

Zlatan Ibrahimovic has praised Anthony Elanga as a “great talent” and told the Manchester United youngster that he must keep “striving for more” to continue his success.

Elanga has earned a first call-up to the Sweden national team ahead of the international break and could make his debut for the country in their World Cup qualifying play-off semi-final against the Czech Republic.

He has enjoyed a breakthrough season at Old Trafford, flourishing in an expanded role under interim Manchester United manager Ralf Rangnick.

Born in Malmo, Elanga moved to the United Kingdom as a child and was eligible for England, Cameroon or Sweden.

But having made the decision to play internationally for the country of his birth, Elanga has an admirer in new squad-mate Ibrahimovic, who also offered the 19-year-old some advice to ensure he makes the most of his talent.

“A great talent, we are proud and happy that he comes from Sweden,” Ibrahimovic, who made his Sweden debut more than a year before Elanga was born, said of the winger. “That he can represent Sweden now makes it even bigger.

“He has all the future ahead of him, and if he continues just as he has done, it looks positive.

“It’s just fighting, never being happy, striving for more. It depends on him, how far he can develop.”

The former Manchester United striker, now at AC Milan, is suspended for the Czech Republic tie.

Poland await the winners of the Stockholm encounter in the final play-off round to determine who will earn a place at Qatar 2022.

Manager Janne Andersson has suggested that Elanga will not be an immediate starter with stiff competition for places in Sweden’s forward line, but indicated that he felt he would be a useful bench option.

Elanga described the chance to represent Sweden as “a dream” ahead of his potential debut, and insisted that he never harboured any thoughts of switching allegiance having come up through the age-group system in the Scandinavian nation.

“I was born in Sweden, I spent 75 per cent of my life here and Sweden means a lot to me,” Elanga said of his decision.

“Everyone knows that I could have represented Cameroon and England but, for me, it was always Sweden.

“It is a dream to represent Sweden at this level.”

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