Zlatan Ibrahimovic isn’t a subtle human being. But has he dropped a subtle hint he will not be with the LA Galaxy beyond the 2018 season?
The veteran striker has flourished in his debut campaign in Major League Soccer with 18 goals, but with LA’s season petering out after Sigi Schmid left as coach and a playoff appearance increasingly unlikely, Zlatan appears to be thinking about moving on.
Speaking to reporters, Ibrahimovic said his future in MLS with the LA Galaxy “isn’t a sure thing” according to LA Times writer Kevin Baxter which suggests he’d like to stay in North America’s top-flight but head elsewhere.
That is likely because Zlatan is only signed on a contract until the end of the 2019 season and he’s only paid $1.5 million per year, due to the fact that LA could only pay him via Targeted Allocation Money (TAM) as they already had three Designated Players. Therefore, he’s testing out the waters to see if other MLS clubs are interested in his talents.
So, where else could Zlatan go?
The obvious choice would be Inter Miami but David Beckham’s new MLS franchise isn’t set to begin play until 2020 and by that time Zlatan would be 38 years old.
After his serious knee injury, Ibrahimovic’s fitness isn’t a concern and as we have seen with LA this season, he is more than capable of scoring close to 20 goals in a single MLS campaign. Some of his strikes this season have been majestic (see: his goal from 40-yards in the LA derby after coming off the bench and a flying side volley versus Toronto for his 500th career goal).
With clubs such as D.C. United making a splash to sign Wayne Rooney as a veteran striker this season, the impact these ageing superstars can have on and off the pitch in MLS are clear for all to see. Would Zlatan prefer a move to New York City FC? Maybe heading across Los Angeles to new boys LA FC? Perhaps a club like Minnesota United would want to bring in Zlatan with their new stadium opening later this year and a large Scandinavian population?
The only thing we do know is that Zlatan will be a man in demand if he decides to leave LA over this offseason.
But what is more than likely happening here is that Ibrahimovic wants a vastly improved contract to remain in LA beyond the end of his current deal which runs out in December 2019. The Galaxy would be misguided to do anything but offer Zlatan what he wants.