Zlatan Ibrahimovic is one of the best players in the world so it is only natural that, now 34-years-old, he has experienced life under some of the most reputable managers in the game.
The Swede has played under Carlo Ancelotti at Paris Saint-Germain, Jose Mourinho at Inter Milan and Pep Guardiola at Barcelona. Together, the three head coaches make up arguably the top three in the world, at least as far as silverware is concerned.
But while Ancelotti is certainly one of the most respected, it is the contrast between Mourinho and Guardiola that has captured world football's imagination. Their intense rivalry, which lives on since their days in La Liga, is only increased by their polar opposite footballing ideals.
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Guardiola, who will manage Manchester City next season, is seen as the pure, angelic, idealist of the two while Mourinho is seen as the cold, determined individual hell-bent on winning in any way imaginable.
Writing in Ancelotti's new autobiography 'Quiet Leadership', Ibrahimovic offered an insight into the day-to-day differences between the two, saying Mourinho was a "manipulator" while describing Guardiola as having a "big football brain".
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He is quoted by The Mirror as saying: "Mourinho is the disciplinarian. Everything with him is a mind game — he likes to manipulate. Such tricks were new for me — all the time doing one thing to get another thing, all the time triggering me. I like these games and it worked for me; I became top scorer under him and we won the league. As long as it works and as long as we win, it’s all good with me.
"Jose Mourinho knows how to treat a footballer, but Carlo knows how to treat a person"
"The way Mourinho prepared for games was also new to me. I would get pumped up, believing the story he would feed us. I went through a lot of adrenaline when I played for him. It was like nothing was ever good enough. He gave and he took. Jose Mourinho knows how to treat a footballer, but Carlo knows how to treat a person.
"After Mourinho I went to Pep Guardiola, the big brain in football. He had all these solutions for every team we played against, knowing exactly what we needed to do to win, exactly how he wanted it achieved. We could be winning 2–0 at half-time, but he would say, 'We’re not finished here. I want three, four, five, six, seven.' He was like a machine."
Funnily enough, it is the dark force of Mourinho that shares the closer relationship with the enigmatic striker. The two are thought to be in regular contact and were filmed sharing an emotional embrace after a 2014 Champions League game between Ibrahimovic's PSG side and Mourinho's Chelsea.
It could not be more different between Ibrahimovic and Guardiola, who never quite saw eye-to-eye during the former's ill-fated spell at Camp Nou. The previous Inter and AC Milan star later referred to the Spanish coach as a "spineless coward" in his autobiography.
Speaking in November, Ibrahimovic proved there was still bad blood between the pair, telling reporters: "Whatever happened, as a coach he was fantastic.
"As a person, I have no comments about that. That is something else. He is not a man. There’s nothing more to say."
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