- Associated Press - Friday, May 13, 2016

PARIS (AP) - The French league will be missing its most charismatic player next season after Zlatan Ibrahimovic announced on Friday that he will leave Paris Saint-Germain.

The Sweden international, whose contract expires in June, said that he will be playing his final match at PSG’s home ground on Saturday against Nantes.

“My last game tomorrow at the Parc des Princes. I came like a king, left like a legend,” Ibrahimovic said in his trademark arrogant style.

Saturday’s match won’t be the last in a PSG jersey for Ibrahimovic, who is also expected to play in the French Cup final against Marseille at the Stade de France on May 21.

Ibrahimovic reportedly pushed for a one-year extension but PSG said the club and the player decided mutually not to renew their contract.

“They agreed as well that once the player ends his active football career he would be back in the club in a managerial capacity,” PSG said in a statement.

At 34, Ibrahimovic played one of the best seasons of his career. Although he failed again in his task of delivering the Champions League to the Qatari-owned club, he was named last week the French league’s best player for the third time in four seasons.

“Ibra will have widely contributed to transform Paris Saint-Germain in one of the biggest clubs in Europe,” PSG said.

Playing tremendous soccer for most of the season, the imposing striker became PSG’s all-time leading goal scorer as the Parisian club won a fourth consecutive French league title. Earlier this week, he moved to within one goal of Carlos Bianchi’s record for a French league season after scoring his 36th in a 1-1 draw at Bordeaux. He is the first player to score more than 30 in a season in France’s top division since Bianchi managed 37 in 1977-78.

“I am very proud of the last four years,” Ibrahimovic said in the statement issued by PSG. “I loved every day I spent here. The Paris Saint-Germain has become a star club in the world and I played a key role moving it forward. It is now the right time for me to take a different path.”

A big fan of Ibrahimovic, PSG coach Laurent Blanc said the striker was a driving force behind PSG’s development as major European force over the past four years.

“Not only on the pitch but also in terms of image and charisma, he’s a player who does not leave one indifferent,” Blanc said. “He contributed to make PSG’s project a reality and maybe exceeded expectations from the owners.”

Ibrahimovic, who has previously expressed his interest for an experience across the Atlantic in MLS, has yet to announce where he is headed.

After leading Sweden during the European Championship starting June 10 in France, he could also cross the English Channel to play in the Premier League. The much-traveled Ibrahimovic, who played one season for Barcelona, has also been linked with a move to Real Madrid, where he is thought to be interested in working with coach Zinedine Zidane.

In Paris, he will be remembered for his goals - 152 in 178 games - but also his controversial personality. Last year, just a month after he described Chelsea players as a bunch of “babies,” Ibrahimovic was suspended for four matches by the French league’s disciplinary commission following his criticism of a referee and France in general.

Ibrahimovic’s offensive comments caused an outcry, with National Front leader Marine Le Pen suggesting that he should leave the country if he was not happy and the French sports minister asking him to apologize.

Ibrahimovic joined PSG from AC Milan in 2012 after the French club missed out on the league title despite spending more than 100 million euros ($123 million) on players. His impact was immediate and PSG clinched its first championship in 19 years the next season.

Ibrahimovic joined Milan from Barcelona on loan in 2010 and the move was made permanent the following year. He also spent three seasons at Inter and two at Juventus, winning the Serie A title every year, although the two he won with Juventus were later revoked because of the match-fixing scandal.

Ibrahimovic also won the Dutch league twice with Ajax and the Spanish title with Barcelona before lifting another Serie A trophy with Milan.

Although Blanc has plenty of attacking options in his squad, PSG will now be actively looking for Ibrahimovic’s replacement. PSG president Nasser Al-Khelaifi is eager to sign Real Madrid forward Cristiano Ronaldo, while Barcelona forward Neymar and Atletico Madrid striker Antoine Griezmann are reportedly on the French club’s radar.

“There are no other player like Ibra, or very few,” Blanc said. “A page is turning with our major player (leaving), it’s quite sad but our project continues. The next season starts today.”

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