Ibrahimovic not in Sweden's plans despite latest World Cup hint

Zlatan Ibrahimovic has again stoked speculation over his World Cup participation but Sweden are planning for Russia 2018 without him.

LA Galaxy striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic   -  Getty Images

Zlatan Ibrahimovic has again teased fans over the prospect of him taking part in the World Cup, even though Sweden head coach Janne Andersson insists the enigmatic striker is not in his plans.

Sweden's all-time leading goalscorer retired from international football after his country bowed out in the group stage of Euro 2016.

A play-off win over Italy in November saw the Scandinavian nation battle their way to Russia 2018 in the absence of their former talisman, who is enjoying a new lease of life after joining LA Galaxy from Manchester United.

Ibrahimovic, 36, suffered cruciate knee ligament damage last April and found himself on the periphery at Old Trafford this term, but has scored three times in as many MLS appearances.

Asked by reporters in Los Angeles whether he would be at the finals, he replied: "I'm going to the World Cup, yes."

On whether that would be in a playing capacity, Ibrahimovic stuck to the line he gave to talk show host Jimmy Kimmel earlier this week.

"If I give you more you will get too many followers [on social media], so we'll keep it like this [under wraps]," he said.

Nevertheless, Sweden boss Andersson told TV4's Fotbollskanalen he has not held any talks with Ibrahimovic and is preparing for a World Cup without the former Inter and Paris Saint-Germain star.

"Zlatan and a number of other players said they did not want to join the national team after the European Championships in France, and I respect that," Andersson said.

"But what the media is speculating about and what Zlatan himself is talking about, I cannot relate to that. I relate to what has been said between us. 

"We have had a deal where we agreed on what was going on and where he was very clear to me. I agreed with that."

Andersson stated Ibrahimovic has not called him to discuss World Cup participation and was clear when asked whether the forward was part of Sweden's plans.

"No, absolutely not," he added. "Because he has said 'no'.

"The others who have said 'no' are not included either. Those who are included are those who have said 'yes'." 

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