This week, Everton were surprisingly linked with former Manchester United, Inter Milan and Barcelona striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic. 

The Swedish superstar had most recently played for MLS side LA Galaxy, scoring 53 goals in his 18-month stint with the club - that averaged out at an impressive 0.9 goals per 90 minutes. 

He is now without a club and Everton have shot to favourites to acquire his signature. However, any move - as bizarre as it would be - to Goodison Park does seem dependant on the arrival of Carlo Ancelotti.

The forward has enjoyed a majestic playing career to date, winning a host of trophies, but now at 38-years-old, has he still got something to offer Everton in the competitive environment of the Premier League?

The case for his arrival 

Despite his best days being behind him, the forward can still boast being a ruthless and clinical goalscorer.

As previously stated, he netted a standout 53 goals for LA Galaxy. However, his Expected Goal (xG) total for that period was just 39.54. What this indicates is that a mid-ranking forward would be expected to score around 39 to 40 goals in that time, given the quality of chances created for him. 

To score 13 goals more than what would have been expected is a testament to his standout finishing abilities.

Carlo Ancelotti talks with Zlatan Ibrahimovic during the duo's time at Paris Saint-Germain
Carlo Ancelotti talks with Zlatan Ibrahimovic during the duo's time at Paris Saint-Germain

The big Swede also remains a frequent and aggressive shot taker. During his period in the MLS, he averaged 4.32 shots per 90 minutes with 47% of those efforts hitting the target. This is a notable output which goes a long way to explaining his high goal return. 

For comparison, Dominic Calvert-Lewin has attempted the highest number of shots at Everton this season with an average of just 2.3 per 90 minutes, and only 41.67% of them hit the target. 

The above highlights that despite his age, he remains a legitimate goal threat and capable scorer.

The case against his arrival 

Given the age of Ibrahimovic, he tends to reserve his energy for scoring goals and contributes little else on the pitch. 

This could be an issue at Everton. The Blues will often forgo possession of the ball - particularly against more dominant sides - and look to sit in a deep defensive block. For the same to work, all players must play a role in the defensive aspects of the game, even attackers.

This is an underrated aspect of Calvert-Lewin’s game. He boasts an extremely strong work ethic without the ball and possesses really good stamina. 

This is highlighted by the fact that he averages 2.7 defensive duels and 14 aerial duels per 90 minutes. In contrast, across his time in the MLS, Ibrahimovic averaged just 1.7 defensive duels and 7.9 aerial duels per 90 minutes, with a worse success rate in both departments. 

Ibrahimovic is also less of a willing runner than the likes of Calvert-Lewin and Richarlison, meaning Everton would be restricted in terms of playing balls into the flanks or over a defence. 

Conclusion 

Overall, it’s understandable why Ibrahimovic carries such appeal. 

The above evidence suggests he is still a fine goalscoring forward, which is something Everton would surely welcome. 

Yet, his reduced work ethic across other areas of the pitch could be a problem. Everton’s system tends to require every player to play a role, particularly when they are out of possession.  They cannot really afford any luxuries in this regard.

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There is also a concern as to whether he could translate that impressive goal scoring record from the MLS into the much harsher environment of the Premier League at this stage in his career. 

Therefore, if the club does elect to make a move, it remains to be seen if it would prove to be a success.