Sweden's star striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic said on Monday he was very worried about the future of the national side because young players were not being given a chance in the domestic league. The 32-year-old, who is fresh from helping Paris Saint-Germain retain their French championship title, said that throwing raw players into UEFA EURO 2016 qualifiers was not the way that they were going to qualify for major tournaments.
Ibrahimovic, who has scored 48 goals in 97 appearances for his country and has appeared at three successive European championships, has yet to announce how much longer he will continue to play at international level and made clear how the lack of experience of those vying to replace him was a problem for Sweden.
"I am very worried," said Ibrahimovic, who was speaking on the eve of Sweden's friendly with Denmark in Copenhagen. "People talk about John Guidetti, but how many matches has he played this season?" HE added, referring to the 22-year-old Manchester City forward who was loaned out to fellow English Premier League side Stoke City but rarely played there.
"It is hard to select players who aren't first choice at their club," Ibrahimovic said. "Everyone wants us to qualify for the EURO finals and the World Cup. But we can't throw inexperienced players into such matches, it is not the right way to get the players to mature."
Ibrahimovic, who will not be at the FIFA World Cup™ as the Swedes were knocked out by Portugal in the play-off for a place in Brazil, said that the great players got their chances to shine early. "When (Lionel) Messi was just 16 he was already in the first team at Barcelona," said Ibrahimovic. "Why can't the young Swedes play in the first teams competing in the Allsvenskan (Swedish First Division)? There is only Malmo (where he began his career) who give them a chance. The other teams should follow their example."