Zlatan Ibrahimovic has been told he must pick up the phone and call Sweden coach Janne Andersson if he has any chance of being at the World Cup this summer.
Ibrahimovic retired from international football after Euro 2016. But he has dropped regular hints in recent months that he would like to return for the World Cup.
“I am going to the World Cup, yes!” the LA Galaxy forward told reporters last week, although he would not say whether as a player or pundit.
Speaking to German outlet kicker, Anderson said that he has no plans to contact Ibrahimovic himself over a possible comeback. But he did leave the door open for Ibrahimovic to get in touch with him.
“To put it plainly, if you retire from the national team, like Zlatan following Euro 2016 — and he was very clear when talked about it — the case is settled,” Andersson said. “If you’ve lost the drive to be with the national team for 40 to 50 days a year, and rather do nothing or spend time with your family, I respect that.
“I don’t believe in convincing anyone. I’d rather work with the 250,000 [players] who want to be part of it.”
Anderson added that he had never considering asking Ibrahimovic to do a U-turn. “Not him, or anyone else who retired. But there’s this media noise,” he said.
“I have no problem with those questions [about a possible return]. Not with what he says or what is written in media.”
Directly addressing Ibrahimovic’s recent statements, Andersson explained: “He can do it. But If he changes his opinion, contacts me and tells me ‘yes, I want to be part of it,’ then we’ll sit down and discuss what that would mean, how we play these days and so on. But that’s all speculation.
“I don’t know [if he’d still fit into the team]. But I also don’t think about it. I take the things as they come if they come. If you want to be part of it, you must call me. Easy as that.”
Goalkeeper Karl-Johan Johnsson had said last week that the return of “individualist” Ibrahimovic could disrupt the dynamic that earned them a place in Russia.
Stephan Uersfeld is the Germany correspondent for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @uersfeld.