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Zlatan Ibrahimovic released by Man United

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It’s confirmed. Zlatan Ibrahimovic is a free agent.

The Premier League Friday morning announced its list of released players from across the league and Ibrahimovic was the sole member on the list from Manchester United.

[More: Transfer Rumor Roundup]

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The news ends weeks of speculation that Manchester United would cut their losses after losing Ibrahimovic to a torn ACL, which will likely keep him out of action until January 2018 at the earliest, when he’ll be 36-years old.

In his one season at Old Trafford, the wily veteran striker still managed to score 17 Premier League goals and 28 goals in all competitions. It will be difficult for Manchester United to replace that production immediately, although potentially signing Alvaro Morata from Real Madrid could help bridge the goal gap.

It’s unclear where Ibrahimovic moves next. He’s been oft-rumored for a move to Major League Soccer or to China, but he could sit on the sidelines and await his next move while he rehabs his current injury.

Other notable players released include Arsenal’s Yaya Sanogo, Chelsea’s John Terry, Burnley’s Joey Barton, who is suspended by the FA for gambling on soccer games, Stoke’s Shay Given, West Bromwich Albion’s Darren Fletcher and West Ham’s Alvaro Arbeloa. Manchester City’s quartet of Bacary Sagna, Jesus Navas, Gael Clichy and Willy Caballero that are leaving had already been announced.

Also of note is the release of U.S. Under-19 centerback Danny Barbir, who joined West Bromwich Albion in 2015. The Romanian-American dual national played mostly with the West Bromwich U-18s and reserves but never made a first team gameday squad.

Here’s a look at all the players set to be released from their contracts this summer:

(more…)

Further MLS attachment to the English Premier League is a good thing … right?

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Major League Soccer’s fan and media legions were understandably abuzz over this week’s expansion news.

Expansion news is always buzz-worthy, of course, but this one especially so for several reasons.

First, it’s No. 20, which was always a strategic resting spot for MLS; commissioner Don Garber has said that his league would stay put at 20 clubs for the time being.

Second, it’s New York – and dropping a new brand into nation’s premier media market, even a second club in MLS, will gather more media momentum than a new club anywhere else.

Third, big engines from Manchester City and the Yankees are pulling this train, and those are some mighty engines, indeed.

But there is another angle to explore here – one that will surely get more discussion going forward.

What if broader MLS attachment to the venerable English Premier League backfires? What if, in the bigger picture, increased EPL awareness on this side of the Atlantic actually pushes Major League Soccer closer to the margins of U.S. cultural awareness rather than toward the center of it?

That’s a main point in the New Yorker blog piece on this week’s news.

Still, it’s been difficult to convince even invested fans that, in the scheme of international soccer, M.L.S. is truly worth caring about. This is where Manchester City’s involvement comes as both a blessing, and a possible curse. It brings the approving stamp of Europe’s most prominent soccer league, one American fans have begun watching with more fervor than they watch their own, and any chance to ride the coattails of international soccer’s growing domestic popularity seems useful. But the ownership scheme brings with it the inherent implication of inferiority. Will N.Y.C.F.C. ever feel like anything more than AAA ball to Man City’s major leagues? And how will New Yorkers react to foreign ownership of one of their teams?”

Major League Soccer is betting there is enough interest to go around, and that even the sharpest plasma or LED displays in someone’s home cannot duplicate the energy of game day at a proper ground.

Still, it’s a question worth asking.