"I am not closing any doors, and flattered to even be linked with such a big team," the 33-year-old defender told Expressen from Helsingborg where he plays in the second division.
Second division? Yes, you have read that right. Back in January, Granqvist agreed to return to his first club Helsingborg (an important and traditional club from the south of Sweden) in July and, despite his performances at the World Cup opening many doors for him this summer, he never even considered breaking his word.
His decision was heavily influenced by the example of Henrik Larsson. Granqvist was a young player in the squad when the Helsingborg-born legend came back to his beloved club in the summer of 2006, just after providing two sublime assists for Barcelona in the Champions League final win over Arsenal. So he wanted to do the same. However, the major difference is that Helsingborg were a major force in the Allsvenskan in Larsson's final playing days. In 2016, they were relegated (ironically with Larsson as coach) and finished the 2017 season midtable in the second division, with a negative goal difference.
Yet while the club had reached rock bottom, Granqvist was flourishing.
For years, he was considered by many to be a boring and limited central defender. The biggest headline he made was when Johan Elmander accidentally poked him in the eye during the goal celebrations in the game against England at Euro 2012. The defender tried to play on, but his vision was blurred and he had to be substituted.
Other than that, his career wasn't special by any means. A difficult spell at Wigan was followed by three years at Groningen, two seasons at Genoa, and then five years at Krasnodar in Russia. Those performances, far away from the spotlight, were hardly noticed back home, until Ibrahimovic retired from the national team following the fiasco of Euro 2016 as Sweden failed to win a game and finished bottom of Group E.
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