An awkward fall last week confirmed that Zlatan Ibrahimovic will play no further part in the 2016-17 season and put the brakes on contracts talks with Manchester United.
But that hasn’t halted rumors of a move to Los Angeles for Zlatan.
But rumors of a move to MLS are nothing new…
Residents of Los Angeles have been teased with the Zlatan rumor before, and along with it a fantastic line-up of competition for his signature.
Yet this time, those rumors are different – he currently sits out of action with a potential 2018 return date attached to him, which opens the door wide open for something real to materialize with MLS…
With much more left in the tank yet.
At the time of his signing with Manchester United last summer, it was widely critiqued due to his age. But after 28 goals in 46 appearances, it is a move universally hailed a success.
He has carried them at times this season and proved himself very much at the top of his game, physically and mentally. Talking about his move to United, he declared with his brand of customary insouciance, “I didn’t come here to lose, I came here to win.”
Coupled with the impact he makes, it is this attitude that endeared and intoxicated him amongst fans everywhere this year. Because of that, despite his injury, it would be no surprise still if a short term contract extension was reached with Manchester United.
But with those contract talks in flux, rumors will take shape.
A Tale of Two Cities
As with all rumors, where there is smoke, there is fire. And in this case, there are perceived statements of intent – unofficially – released from both Los Angeles franchises.
So what exactly is on offer at both?
LAFC have not been shy with their intentions: they are looking at nothing less than a spectacular debut next year.
And ensuring that is a name, a face, a legend to define what this new footballing brand is.
Zlatan fits that mold.
Reports are suggesting a figure in the region of $6.4m a year, but that is not the main calling card in making this happen.
LAFC are already talking the right language with reports also claiming that the deal will be structured around a loan move back to Europe for him to play the first half of the European football season before joining them in MLS in March – in a similar arrangement to David Beckham’s AC Milan deal.
So while LAFC don’t have a physical product just yet, they know that they don’t come much bigger than Zlatan, and that this would truly announce their arrival into MLS.
And then there was the Galaxy:
Who’s interest in Zlatan actually came first.
“Confirmed from Europe. Zlatan Ibrahimovic will play for Galaxy.” This was the Fox Sports tweet seeming to give the move an official angle with a mocked-up image of Zlatan in an LA Galaxy shirt.
They are the more established club, so they do not offer that ‘new’ factor, but in being established, Zlatan could be lured by a similar brief he saw at Manchester United: to help a former giant get back to the top again.
And in terms of talking money, the Galaxy can – and will no doubt – match any big money offer from LAFC, and other than Giovani dos Santos, would make room for Zlatan as a designated player.
Only time will tell….
… what happens next.
Even at 36, and with a serious injury, Zlatan is a tug of war over worth fighting over.
He is a legend of the game, and for either L.A. franchise to get any of his refracted shine would be huge plus for MLS as well.
Los Angeles could be an absorbing instalment of a wonderful career narrative. Although right now, ‘Zlatan in Los Angeles’ is a picture which is both easy and difficult to picture.