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Jan 9, 2013

Leonardo: Ibra does not call shots

Leonardo has laughed off suggestions Zlatan Ibrahimovic rules the roost at Paris Saint-Germain as "ridiculous", insisting the imposing forward "gets no favours".

Ibrahimovic, 31, has marked his territory both on and off the pitch since his arrival at PSG last summer. Reports of the forthright Swede lambasting his team-mates at half-time of their 4-0 league win over Troyes in November, a tirade in which he reportedly stated his young sons were better footballers, enhanced the striker's fearsome reputation and led to suggestions his own team-mates were scared of him.

There have been claims Nene's imminent departure from the Parc des Princes is because Ibrahimovic does not like playing alongside the Brazilian, and that Ligue 1's leading scorer even assists coach Carlo Ancelotti in team selection, speculation Leonardo finds amusing.

"It's a legend. It's ridiculous. There's only one boss here, and that's [club president] Nasser [Al Khelaifi]. Ibra's very respectful of PSG as an institution," PSG's sporting director told L'Equipe. "Ibra's paid to be Ibra, and he's done that by scoring 18 goals. There are no favours for Ibra, for me or anyone else. We're a company with an owner who pays us. The club pays and we work, that's it.

"If a player starts messing about with that, it's finished, he's dead, he loses respect, and Ibra is big on respect. He's too intelligent to get involved in that."

Not that Ibrahimovic has entirely steered clear of adding to the blaze of publicity which accompanied his arrival from AC Milan. He recently rowed with security guards at the club's training ground over where to park his car, an incident dismissed by Leonardo - "We don't even have enough space for the delivery van," the Brazilian claimed - while Ibrahimovic remarked during his team's winter training camp he had "aged ten years" in the last three months.

"I didn't really understand, but if he's tired, he'd better take some vitamins because there is still a lot of work to do. But Ibra's a worker, there's no problem with that," Leonardo explained, before dismissing suggestions Ibrahimovic and fellow former Milan man, Thiago Silva, were still pining for the San Siro.

"If Ibra and Thiago weren't happy here, they wouldn't play like they have been doing. Having said that, players can go back from where they came. So what? It's not the end of the world. Others would arrive."

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