A statue of Zlatan Ibrahimovic in his homeland of Sweden has been vandalized.
After Zlatan became an investor in Swedish side Hammarby by buying a 25 percent stake, fans of their rivals Malmo — Zlatan’s boyhood club which also gave him his breakthrough in the professional game — damaged the statue at their stadium.
The statue of Zlatan outside Malmo’s stadium was only unveiled last month, but the 38-year-old has decided to invest in Stockholm based Hammarby and called them a “one of the most interesting and influential clubs in Sweden.”
A toilet seat was place on the arm of the statue, plus a plastic bag was put over its head, a fire was lit underneath it and vandals spray-painted derogatory messages across it. Security staff have been placed surrounding the statue, while reports state that one of Zlatan’s properties in Stockholm has also been damaged after his investment in Hammarby was announced.
His stake in Hammarby comes alongside AEG’s investment in the club, as AEG also own his most recent club, the LA Galaxy.
The former Galaxy, Manchester United, PSG, Barcelona, Inter Milan, AC Milan, Juventus and Ajax forward is now looking for a new club and has said he will not be returning to the Swedish top-flight to play.
Safe to say, he won’t be playing for Malmo anytime soon. Actually, tile that one under never.
According to a report by Italian journalist Fabrizio Romano, AC Milan has begun preliminary talks with Zlatan Ibrahimovic via his longtime agent Mino Raiola.
Ibrahimovic played the last two seasons for the LA Galaxy in Major League Soccer, and lit the U.S. league on fire with 53 goals in 58 games. The Swedish international was his usual lightning rod self throughout his MLS tenure, claiming on multiple occasions that he was the best player to ever play in Major League Soccer.
Romano says that nothing is immediately imminent and that Zlatan will take his time deciding on his future, saying he could know in the “next weeks” where he will head.
While Zlatan did not release his intentions upon leaving the Galaxy, a return to Serie A has been heavily rumored for weeks. He played for AC Milan from 2010-2012, and prior to that spent three seasons with Inter Milan from 2006-2009 as well as two seasons with Juventus from 2004-2006. He won six Serie A titles between the three clubs, including the 2010/11 Scudetto with AC Milan.
There have also been significant reports linking Ibrahimovic to Serie A side Bologna where Zlatan is friends with manager Sinisa Mihajlovic. The Serbian boss has battled leukemia this season but has decided to coach through it, and Zlatan reportedly wishes to show his support by signing up to play for the squad.
The LA Galaxy announced on Monday that star attacker Cristian Pavon will remain with the club next season, extending his loan through the 2020 MLS campaign after agreeing to a deal with his parent club Boca Juniors.
The 23-year-old Argentinian made a splash when arriving to the Galaxy in early August, helping push the club to an appearance in the quarterfinals of the MLS Cup Playoffs. He scored three goals and assisted eight more in 11 regular season matches, plus another goal in the playoffs.
Pavon’s arrival was of the utmost importance for the Galaxy as they looked to make up for a sub-par defense that conceded goals in waves. His presence will be even more critical next season as the Galaxy are without goal hawk Zlatan Ibrahimovic who left the club this offseason.
Terms of the extension were not released, but it was confirmed that Pavon will occupy a Designated Player slot for the upcoming season, alongside fellow DP Jonathan dos Santos. Romain Alessandrini was the third DP on the club, but his contract expires this offseason and no resolution to that has yet been announced.
Pavon was a regular for Argentina during the 2018 World Cup but has not been a regular since, missing from the 2019 Copa America squad and not among the players for the current international break. He has 11 international caps in total, yet to score a goal.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic has bid adieu to Major League Soccer, thanking the LA Galaxy for “making me feel alive again.”
The Swedish superstar averaged nearly a goal per game with the Galaxy, and was rumored to be in line for another two years at the club.
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Perhaps those reports, and maybe AC Milan’s struggles to score goals, have made more suitors come forward. Time will tell.
The Galaxy said the decision was a “mutual parting of ways” and thanked the player for his work both on and off the pitch.
“We would like to thank Zlatan for his contributions to the LA Galaxy and Major League Soccer,” said LA Galaxy President Chris Klein. “Since his arrival in 2018, Zlatan has positively influenced the sport of soccer in Los Angeles. We are grateful for his work ethic and passion. We thank Zlatan for his professionalism and immeasurable impact on the Los Angeles community and the soccer community in North America as a whole.”
Zlatan’s full thoughts, below, were a bit more Zlatanny.
Klein will have his hands full in replacing Ibrahimovic, who scored 52 times in 53 matches, but the Galaxy have always managed to bring in big names.
Getting a star playmaker is even more important as El Trafico rivals LAFC have rewritten the MLS record book and snared plenty of attention in California and across the league.
Major League Soccer has tabbed LAFC striker Carlos Vela as 2019 Landon Donovan MVP after his record-setting season led Bob Bradley‘s side to the Supporters’ Shield and the Western Conference finals.
Vela won the award in a landslide vote, earning 69.6% of the overall vote, including 80.3% of the player vote and 63.9% from the media. He becomes the first Mexican to win the award.
In a prophetic message just a week into the season, after scoring his first goal of the season in a 4-1 win over Portland, Vela said, “I’m working to be the MVP of the league. If I want to do that, I have to show every game how good I am.”
That goal would be the first of a record 34 scores in MLS play across the campaign, topping Josef Martinez’s 31-goal haul the previous season. Vela led LAFC to an MLS record 72-point total across the season, leading the Western Conference and winning the Supporters’ Shield with an eight-point differential over Eastern Conference winners NYCFC. The team also set MLS records for goal differential (+48), and goals scored (85).
LA Galaxy striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic was second in the voting with 14.1% of the vote, while Josef Martinez finished third and Maxi Morales finished fourth.