Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s bitter feud with Romelu Lukaku on Tuesday evening was more than a stray elbow on the Inter striker. This all goes back to one thing: who wears the crown in Milan?
In February 2020, Inter fought back from 2-0 to claim bragging rights in the derby with a 4-2 win. It was a statement win for Inter, but Lukaku had more to say.
Lukaku sealed the victory in the 93rd minute and later declared, ‘There is a new king in town’.
It was, without a doubt, a dig at his former Manchester United teammate. Tongue in the cheek in a way, but also a warning shot; Lukaku believes he is a better player and that would never suit an alpha male like Ibrahimovic.
Romelu Lukaku (left) and Zlatan Ibrahimovic hit heads in heated exchange
After winning the Milan derby 4-2 in February 2020, Lukaku called himself the ‘King’ of Milan
Ibrahimovic retaliated in October 2020, saying ‘Milan never had a king, they have a GOD’
Ibrahimovic returned to AC Milan after spending a spell in the United States, likened it to the ‘return of the king’. In his mind, the best No. 9 in the world was back in Italy. Lukaku’s derby jibe after February only added fuel to their rivalry. It was very busy.
Ibrahimovic waited patiently to get his revenge, waited until the next Derby della Madonnina, in October 2020. It was calculated. If they were against each other again, it would be different – and it turned out.
Lukaku scored again, but Ibrahimovic also scored twice, in a 2-1 win for AC Milan. While they didn’t clash on the field that night, the 39-year-old had to offer a not-so-subtle slap on social media.
“Milan never had a king, they have a God,” he wrote on Instagram. This battle for No. 1 status in the Italian city was almost simmering at boiling point.
Ibrahimovic could be heard yelling at Lukaku ‘Go do your voodoo s ***, you little donkey’
They were an uncomfortable fit at Manchester United and jealousy has grown ever since
Ibrahimovic enjoys provocation and constantly provoked Lukaku in the quarterfinals of the Coppa Italia on Tuesday evening.
At every turn and every set piece, Ibrahimovic was seen in Lukaku’s ear to the point where the Belgian finally lost his cool. Once he did, Ibrahimovic could hardly contain his joy that a rivalry years in the making were about to be shown in full publicly.
Lukaku and Ibrahimovic were engaged in a verbal joust before bumping into each other without seeing each other, which resulted in a yellow card from referee Paolo Valeri.
While they were both booked and pulled apart, Ibrahimovic can be heard yelling at Lukaku ‘Go do your voodoo-s ***, little donkey.’
Ibrahimovic’s ‘voodoo’ comment is believed to have been related to Farhad Moshiri’s extraordinary claim in January 2018 that Lukaku decided to leave Everton after a medicine man advised him to join Chelsea.
Lukaku has since denied those allegations and threatened to sue Moshiri for it.
Lukaku described how training with Ibrahimovic showed the Swede’s fiery side
There is a jealousy between the two about who is the best number 9 in Serie A. It goes beyond goals, this is also who can carry a team on their back to the title. Growing up in troubled neighborhoods, that street fighter mentality has never ceased.
The ‘voodoo’ comment clearly hurt Lukaku when he was stopped by teammate and Inter staff and the 27-year-old could later be overheard against Ibrahimovic: ‘f *** you and your wife, you little b ****’ and ‘you want to talk about my mom !? ‘.
Each time they played together at United they never managed to score, the fit was tough and they knew it.
Even then, Lukaku was the punch line to Ibrahimovic’s joke, another sign that he reaffirmed his superiority over a player 12 years younger than him.
Speak against Gazzetta dello Sport in 2019Ibrahimovic revealed a bet he offered Lukaku, which involved ‘paying him’ for every good first touch. It was insulting and Lukaku knew it.
‘I’ll say this about Romelu: don’t expect good technique from Lukaku. Its best strength is pure strength. If only he had listened to me, ”said Ibrahimovic.
They had to be separated before things got really ugly between the Inter and AC Milan stars
‘At Manchester United we made a bet:’ I’ll give you £ 50 for every decent first touch you make ‘.
He replied, “What do I gain if I get them right?” I didn’t tell him anything, he was just going to be a better player.
‘To be clear, he never accepted the bet! Maybe he was afraid of losing ?! ‘
Often it is a mentality test with Ibrahimovic. For a player who has compared himself to a lion in the past, he has shown a willingness to attack teammates to test them, to see if they are battle-hardened.
An example with Lukaku came during training at Manchester United.
Speak against United’s official website in 2019, Lukaku said: ‘I remember a workout – because we were both attackers, we were never on the same team – there was a 50/50 challenge. He went completely against me!
‘Then I knew this man wants to participate and this man wants to fight for his place. That’s why he changed me.
‘It was an eye opener. The man had to fight to be in the position he is in. ‘
Things were once cordial between them but have now soured with no hope of reconciliation
Things were once cordial between the two, Lukaku called his ‘bro’ to ask if he could get the number 9 shirt when he got to Manchester United, something Ibrahimovic explained he was okay with as he wanted his teammate was ‘happy’. .
There was nothing but respect for Ibrahimovic last year, but there is a sense that that respect has since been thrown away for a bitterness that now sits between them.
“Ibra is a champion, I respect him,” said Lukaku Tiki taka last year.
‘In Manchester I could train with him every day, that was the best for me. It will be fun to play against him. He is a great champion and professional.
‘It’s normal to me that he can do those things at the age of 38. He works a lot; he always gave me advice when we played together in Manchester. ‘
Tuesday night was a long time in the making for two players fighting for power.
The next Derby della Madonnina is February 21. Expect more fireworks.