Report: MLS won’t change rules to allow Galaxy to sign Zlatan this year

Photo by Victor Fraile/Getty Images

The above headline is, of course, (intentionally) grossly facetious. But, at the same time, admit it: you’re still totally shocked by it.

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Anyway, that’s according to ESPN’s Taylor Twellman, who on Sunday reported that if Zlatan Ibrahimovic comes to Major League Soccer in 2016, he won’t be doing so in an LA Galaxy kit — more from Twellman:

“[The Galaxy] have already got three Designated Players — the league will not change that rule mid-season.

“As for ‘discovery rights,’ the mechanism to acquire and sign new players, teams can have up to seven un-signed players on their discovery list. From what I’ve gathered, you don’t discover Zlatan, [Lionel] Messi or [Cristiano] Ronaldo.

“So, Zlatan coming into the league, there’s this talk of whether or not the Philadelphia Union would get compensation — they would not. But it does beg the question: why last year Didier Drogba wasn’t on that list, and Montreal had to trade a boatload to the Chicago Fire for his rights.”

The Galaxy’s three current Designated Players are Robbie Keane, Giovani dos Santos and Steven Gerrard. Gerrard’s contract expires at the end of 2016, but Nigel de Jong will be bumped up to a DP contract next year, provided he appears in 23 games this season. He has played in five of the Galaxy’s 10 games thus far.

[ MORE: PSG game halted after 10 minutes … to appluad Zlatan ]

Thus, one of Keane or Dos Santos would have to be moved this winter to open up a spot for the soon-to-be (in October) 35-year-old Swede.

And yet, here’s the kicker: to re-quote Twellman (emphasis mine), “the league will not change that rule mid-season.” If Keane and Dos Santos and De Jong all want to earn a paycheck in Southern California in 2017, and Zlatan seeks to join them, MLS will change and/or create a rule to allow him to do so. Furthermore, the Galaxy already have a history of getting clever with their roster and salary cap compliance.

[ MORE: Giovinco’s latest jaw-dropping goal | Not to be outdone by Drogba ]

The ball’s in Zlatan’s court now — if LA is the only place (in MLS?) he wants to be, what’s he going to do for six months following this summer’s European Championship? Surely a club of Manchester United’s stature — the Red Devils are the most frequently rumored club for his services — won’t take him on a six-month contract (or short-term loan from LA/MLS) and watch him walk back out the door in January.

On next week’s episode of As The Zlatan Turns