(Editorial) – For those of you living under a rock, MLS is abuzz with the rumor that Zlatan Ibrahimovic is in discussions with the LA Galaxy. A Sky Italia source even gave the Galaxy a 90% chance to sign him over Manchester United.
Zlatan To LA Galaxy: Complicated And Risky For The Galaxy
The forward is out of contract with Paris Saint-Germain this summer and will be leaving the club. This gives the club to sign him a chance to get a world class player on a free transfer. As great of a player as he is and as exciting as it would be for the club to sign him, Ibrahimovic to the LA Galaxy comes with a lot of hurdles. Furthermore, it seems like a risky proposition for a club that’s already gone through a lot of change this year. Let’s break it down.
What has to happen for the Galaxy to even sign Zlatan Ibrahimovic:
The Galaxy already have three designated players: Robbie Keane, Giovani dos Santos, and Steven Gerrard. For the Galaxy to sign Ibrahimovic without moving one of these three would require an unprecedented move by the league. There would have to be a fourth DP slot added, a massive drop of Target Allocation Money, or some new crazy invention.
The TAM rule already seemed to be the league adding a rule to benefit LA. I don’t see them doing something like that to help them sign Ibrahimovic. A fourth DP slot is also a bad idea right now.
So the only way Ibrahimovic plays in a Galaxy kit in 2016 is for one of the current DPs to move. Keane and Gerrard have both had injuries this year. Still, this is Keane’s team; he’s the captain and the undisputed alpha male in the locker room. Unless he has a season ending injury, there’s no way Keane is retiring mid-season.
Gerrard might be the more likely candidate, but he said he’s retiring at the end of the season. He’s planned everything around making it to the end of the year. It is unlikely he goes early as well.
Which leaves Dos Santos. The Galaxy paid around $7 million in a transfer fee to sign Dos Santos last summer. While he struggled in 2015 and early this year, their investment has been paying off of late. So much so, that there are rumors that La Liga sides Sevilla and Espanyol are interested in signing him this summer.
Dos Santos could depart the Galaxy in the summer to make room for Ibrahimovic. With Dos Santos on good form, the Galaxy could turn a profit on transferring Dos Santos. This money could go a long way in paying Ibrahimovic’s salary, which could be the highest in league history.
Still, Bruce Arena constructed this team in the off-season for what could be one last run at a cup. Keane is out of contract at the end of the year. Gerrard is due to retire. One could speculate that this is Arena’s last year as head coach of the Galaxy. Summer DP acquisitions rarely work out that year in MLS. Would Arena really remove one big piece to his team and add another one at the (possibly likely) risk of it screwing up the entire season?
Taylor Twellman certainly doesn’t see this happening in 2016.
Ibrahimovic In 2017 Seems More Plausible:
Manchester United and other European clubs are obviously very interested in Ibrahimovic. If Ibrahimovic is interested in joining MLS (or the Galaxy specifically), but can’t make it work this summer, he could sign a 6 month, 12 month, or 18 month contract with a European team and then make the jump. The Galaxy could also sign him then loan him out to one of these clubs.
Gerrard will be gone at the end of the season. Keane might also be gone. There is a possibility that LA will need to give Nigel de Jong a designated player contract offer to keep him, but that’s a long ways away. Regardless, there’s much more flexibility in trying to get him to StubHub Center next season.
Potential Feast Or Famine If And When He Joins LA:
Even at 34-years-old, Ibrahimovic is a world class player. He’s a 6’5″ beast of a forward. In four years with PSG, he’s scored 113 goals in 122 games. He has the potential to be the biggest designated player signing since David Beckham as far as international fame, pure athletic talent, and personality.
That said, it took a few years for Beckham to settle into MLS and for the Galaxy to get settled with him. Ibrahimovic would walk into that locker room and immediately want to be the alpha male. What happens if he does so with Keane still there? Does Ibrahimovic demand the Captain’s Armband? Does he demand the ball so he can score?
This is man who’s spoken about himself in the third person before, set up his own biographical app (for the low price of $9.99), and once joked that he’d re-sign with PSG if they replaced the Eiffel Tower with a statue of him. He even has his own google page.
Now, you’re allowed to be cocky when you can do this, but I still wonder how an organization goes around building a team around a player with this much personality (and ego). We’ve already seen the Galaxy have issues with trying to make Keane and Dos Santos work on the field at the same time. How do they make it work on the field with Ibrahimovic and one (or both of them)?
There’s no doubt if Ibrahimovic, Zardes, and one of Keane or Dos Santos can figure it out that the Galaxy would wreck the league. I could certainly see Ibrahimovic shattering MLS scoring records effortlessly like a boss. I could also see him butting heads with others in the club if he doesn’t get his way or if things don’t start well. An argument can be made that’s part of why PSG never won Champions League with him there.
Regardless, one thing is certain. Zlatan wouldn’t be joining MLS. MLS would be joining Zlatan.