Welcome to the Rumor Radar, a weekly column by Philly Football Daily MLS contributor, Noah Barnes. Each week, Barnes breaks down the top MLS transfer rumors of the week.
Welcome back to the Rumor Radar.
Unfortunately, most of the notable action this week has been on the pitch, and not off it; this week has been rather light on the transfer-rumor front. However, there has been a development in a rumor regarding one of the biggest names in world football.
Yes, you probably know by now who I’m alluding to. It’s Zlatan Time in LA!
So, without further delay, here is a special Ibra Edition of the Rumor Radar. I’ll break down the transfer saga from the very beginning, and then details the events that brought us here, today.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic — LA Galaxy: Done Deal
Fans of LA Galaxy can finally rejoice, as the numerous rumors linking the club with Swedish superstar Zlatan Ibrahimovic have come to fruition.
The deal was made official last Thursday, and it is being reported that the striker inked a contract worth $1.5 million a year, which would guarantee Zlatan stays in LA until the end of the 2019 Major League Soccer season.
At 36 years of age, and coming off a career altering ACL injury almost a year ago, it remains to be seen whether Ibra is still capable of performing at a world class level. Then again, pundits have been asking that question for years, and the self proclaimed “God of Manchester” has yet to disappoint.
Zlatan scored 17 times in 33 appearances for Manchester United during his two year stint at the club. These stats are impressive when one considers Zlatan missed almost seven months of football over that time period.
The Zlatan to LA rumors have been swirling since 2016, when the player revealed that he would not be signing a new contract with French giants Paris Saint Germain.
Zlatan left PSG as the club’s all-time goalscorer, and for free nonetheless. Immediately, Europe’s top clubs submitted bids, hoping to land Ibra’s signature. In midst of some of those top clubs, was MLS side LA Galaxy, who also found themselves linked to the player.
However, rumors of Zlatan to MLS fizzled out after Zlatan himself said he was not ready for a move to North America and MLS. According to the Swede, he still had something to prove alongside Europe’s elite, and that summer he signed a one year deal with United.
Zlatan would later sign a one year extension 12 months later, keeping him in the red half of Manchester.
Rumors of Zlatan to MLS kicked off once again, after the big man went down with a horrible ACL injury in April 2017.
Many pundits questioned whether Zlatan could recover so late in his career. If he could, would he still be able to play in a competitive English Premier League? Inevitably, Zlatan was rumored to leave, and LA again made the Swede their prime target.
Although a deal with United and Zlatan began to look increasingly imminent about a month ago, it was believed that an agreement would have to wait until the Summer, when the player’s contract ran out with the Red Devils.
Cue the wild ride that was Thursday.
Early Thursday morning, it was revealed that United had officially terminated Ibra’s contract, making him a free agent.
United boss Jose Mourinho had previously stated that he fully backed any decision that his star striker would make, but few expected a deal to materialize before Summer. LA jumped at the opportunity, and soon the reports came in that Zlatan had signed a deal.
Who is Zlatan?
So who is Zlatan Ibrahimovic?
Ibrahimovic has over 350 goals for club and country in a career that has spanned nearly two decades.
“Ibra” is arguably one of the greats of his generation, having played for some of Europe’s elite clubs. He is considered a club legend, for clubs such as Juventus, FC Barcelona, and Paris Saint Germain, to name a few.
Zlatan is also one of the biggest egos in world football.
Ibra once compared himself to both a god and a lion, among others, and he notoriously refused to have a trial once with Arsenal because, “Zlatan doesn’t do tryouts.” Zlatan also has a tendency to talk about himself in third person.
LA fans got their first glimpse of this on Friday, when the Swede announced his arrival in a way that only Zlatan could. He took out a full page ad in the Los Angeles Times that simply read, “You’re welcome.”
There is no doubt that the Galaxy are getting a quality player.
However, the questions remain are a matter of age, and specifically how long Ibra can play at a top level, as well as how this new organization will handle the player’s immense ego.
One thing is for certain: Zlatan and LA are a perfect fit, and coming to a Galaxy near you, soon.
Check back on Monday for the latest edition of the Rumor Radar. In the meantime, connect and follow Noah on Twitter. Cheers.