CARSON, Calif. – The LA Galaxy have no substantial news on the Zlatan Ibrahimovic front, but head coach Guillermo Barros Schelotto says whatever will happen could be determined before the week is done.
The Galaxy plan to hold conversations with the Swedish striker and his representatives, and although there is no specific deadline, Schelotto on Wednesday said a decision “will be during this week or next week for sure.”
Ibrahimovic, who turned 38 last month, is out of contract at the end of the year and hasn't said one way or another if he'll be back – or if he even wants to be back.
“The reality is we don't know yet,” Schelotto said during the Galaxy's end-of-season media session at Dignity Health Sports Park. “So we need to wait.”
It's a delicate landscape for LA, which have reaped much from the superstar's presence – he's scored 52 goals with 17 assists in 56 games over two seasons with the club – but are in the middle of a rebuilding project for which Ibrahimovic ultimately isn't suited.
“I think we need to be careful on that situation,” general manager Dennis te Kloese said when asked when a decision was expected. “He scored an enormous amount of goals. His statute and the recognition toward him is enormous. Like I said before, it's a luxury to have him, but I also know he has different options, and he's a big name overall in the world.
“I think in the upcoming days, we'll have a good solution.”
There are reports from Europe that he's about to sign with AC Milan – and another that Milan isn't interested – or that he could end up at Bologna, Napoli or Manchester United. There also is reported interest from Boca Juniors, Flamengo and Australia's Perth Glory.
“Who wouldn't want Ibra?” noted Te Kloese.
The Galaxy? He's aging and expensive – $7.2 million this season, highest of MLS salaries – and occupies a Designated Player slot that takes on additional value with LA's decision, confirmed by Schelotto to reporters, to bring back Boca Juniors loanee Cristian Pavon, whom the Galaxy have an option to purchase following the 2020 season.
Pavon is expected to take one of the DP slots, and another belongs to midfielder Jonathan Dos Santos, who on Wednesday said “if it were up to me, I would finish my career here.” French winger Romain Alessandrini, the other DP, also is out of contract at year's end, and the Galaxy have not decided whether he will return for a fourth MLS campaign.
Schelotto and Te Kloese denied the Galaxy have interest in Boca Juniors striker Mauro Zarate, who has been mentioned in Argentine media as a potential replacement for Ibrahimovic.
“I know the news say that [we're interested],” said Schelotto, who brought Zarate to Boca during his tenure. “But I [did not speak] with him. I [didn't speak] with anyone about him.”
“We're not moving forward [with the next steps in the team's] evolution until we really sit down with [Ibrahimovic] and see where he is at ... in his career and his personal life,” Te Kloese said. “I think a player of his stature, of his impact in both the league and [with] our club, deserves all the respect in the world to first sit down with him and see where he is at.”
Schelotto, asked if he'd like to have Ibrahimovic on his roster next year, was most circumspect.
“We are getting a lot of meetings with the club and taking the decision about the future of Galaxy,” he said, “and for Ibra, too.”