Earlier this week, Zlatan Ibrahimovic made waves when he opted to sign with MLS outfit L.A. Galaxy, thus ending his nearly two-year stint with Manchester United.
At 36, he joins a long line of European stars to cross the pond and ply their trade in America’s top soccer league, and has followed in the steps of English superstar David Beckham, as well as Liverpool’s Steven Gerrard, to pull on the famed L.A. Galaxy kit. Other notable European talents to have featured for the Los Angeles-based squad include Robbie Kean and Ashley Cole.
Ibrahimovic, who notably has won titles in every league that he has played in, will certainly be winding down his career in America after a nomadic journey that had seen him feature for the likes of Ajax, Juventus, Inter, AC Milan, Barcelona, PSG, and finally, Manchester United.
According to Spanish publication Marca, Ibrahimovic has taken a massive pay cut in order to join his new side, with his annual salary reportedly falling from €21.8 million (approximately $27 million) per year with the Red Devils to just €1.2 million (about $1.5 million). That’s because of the Designated Player Rule, which does not allow a club to pay a player more than the salary cap permits, which, as per Sports Illustrated, is $3.8 million for the current campaign.
His departure certainly caused a great deal of buzz, as while Ibrahimovic had been linked to a move to MLS, many had expected him to leave this summer, despite not featuring for Manchester United since Boxing Day. This belief was solidified when his then-manager, Jose Mourinho, seemingly confirmed that this season was to be Ibrahimovic’s last with the club.
That being said, not many anticipated him to leave at this juncture, especially with about two months remaining in the season.
However, one of Mourinho’s former players believes that he has some “insight” into the matter, and points to a potential fall out between player and manager as the reason for Ibrahimovic’s seemingly abrupt departure from Old Trafford after spending months out injured.
Adrian Mutu, a former Romanian international who briefly played for Mourinho at Chelsea before being sacked after failing a drug test in 2004 opined the following.
“I believe that Ibrahimovic isn’t actually injured, but [rather] he’s just been left out in the cold [by Mourinho],” he noted during an interview with Telekom Sport Romania about a week before Ibrahimovic said adieu to England and headed to the American west coast.
There could be some truth to this, as Ibrahimovic notably did fall out with Pep Guardiola during their time with Barcelona in the 2009-2010 term, leading to a swift transfer to AC Milan the following season. The Swedish superstar notably referred to this in his autobiography, Jag är Zlatan (I am Zlatan).
Mourinho hasn’t commented on these claims, but if true, it would be interesting as he and Ibrahimovic famously enjoyed a strong bond while the Portuguese tactician was in charge of Serie A side Inter during the 2008-2009 campaign. It was that good working relationship, a fact that Ibrahimovic also touched on in his autobiography, that many believed led to Mourinho successfully acquiring Sweden’s all-time top goalscorer on a free transfer at the start of the 2016-2017 season.
Meanwhile, the L.A. Galaxy, who finished 11th in the Western Conference and 22nd overall, will be desperate for some much needed firepower as they aim to get back on track this season. Ibrahimovic, despite sitting out the past few months, could reportedly make his debut for his new club on March 31 as they take on Los Angeles FC in a much anticipated first-ever city derby.