Zlatan Ibrahimovi? is expected to return to AC Milan for a third time, this time off the pitch as an adviser to the team's owners and operating partner for RedBird, the American private equity club that controls the Serie A side.
According to an announcement to be made today, the legendary player, who retired in June, will act as an advisor to the management and ownership of AC Milan, which includes the New York Yankees, and Main Street Advisors, a fund that manages basketball star LeBron James and rapper Drake among its investors.
Ibrahimovi? will work closely with Gerry Cardinale, founder of RedBird, to further grow the firm's existing portfolio of sports, media and entertainment investment assets, as well as find new opportunities in addition to working with AC Milan.
The former Swedish footballer said he chose RedBird because of its track record of partnering with athletes and celebrities who want to make their mark on the business.
“RedBird has partnered with some of the world's biggest athletes, teams and business figures to create meaningful and impactful businesses. I look forward to contributing to their investment activities in their sports, media and entertainment properties," said Ibrahimovi?.
RedBird, which manages about $10 billion, including stakes in Fenay Sports Group, owner of Liverpool FC, the Alpine Formula 1 racing team and Top Gun producer Skydance, has backed LeBron James' SpringHill company and the film studio Ben Affleck and Matt Damon Artists Equity.
"What makes a winner of Zlatan's caliber is not only physical talent, but also high intellect and entrepreneurial spirit," Cardinale said. "At RedBird, we have developed partnerships with a very select group of world-class high-performance athletes and artists who are able to thrive in the RedBird ecosystem."
Cardinale, who bought AC Milan for 1.2 billion euros around 18 months ago, sees AC Milan as a "sleeping giant" that the former Goldman Sachs banker believes can become a sporting, media, entertainment and cultural asset more versatile, capable of competing with Premier League teams. The club recently returned to profitability for the first time in 17 years, thanks in part to the brand's growth in the Middle East and Asia.
AC Milan, which in the 1990s and 2000s dominated European football by winning several championships under the guidance of star players such as Ruud Gullit, Paolo Maldini and Andrea Pirlo, counts around 500 million fans worldwide.
The former centre-forward will advise club manager Stefano Pioli, while also helping chief executive Giorgio Furlani, particularly to expand the AC Milan brand globally, leveraging Ibrahimovi?'s 123 million social media followers. "Bringing on a leader like Ibra as an advisor to the AC Milan management team underlines our commitment to the future success of our club," said Furlani.