Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s bitter feud with Romelu Lukaku was about more than a stray elbow on the Inter striker on Tuesday night. This all goes back to one thing: who wears the crown in Milan?
Back in February 2020, Inter fought back from 2-0 down to claim bragging rights in the derby with a 4-2 win. It was a statement victory for Inter but Lukaku had more to say.
Lukaku sealed the win in the 93rd minute and later declared: ‘There’s a new king in town’.
It was, without question, a dig at his former Manchester United team-mate. Tongue in cheek in one sense but a warning shot also; Lukaku believes he’s a better player and that was never going to sit well with an alpha-male personality like Ibrahimovic.
Returning to AC Milan after a spell in the United States, Ibrahimovic likened it to the ‘return of the king’. In his mind the best No 9 in the world was back in Italy. Lukaku’s post-February derby jibe only poured fuel onto their rivalry. It was very much on.
Ibrahimovic waited patiently to exact his revenge, waited until the next Derby della Madonnina, in October 2020. It was calculated. When they went head-to-head again it would be different – and so it proved.
Lukaku scored, again, but so did Ibrahimovic, twice, in a 2-1 win for AC Milan. While they did not clash on the pitch that night, the 39-year-old was to offer up a not-so-subtle slapdown on social media.
‘Milan never had a king, they have a God,’ he wrote on Instagram. This fight for No 1 status in the Italian city was simmering close to boiling point. Continue reading