When you buy Zlatan Ibrahimovic, you are buying a Ferrari.
And you don’t just park a Ferrari anywhere.
ESPN FC reported on Friday that Zlatan – who announced on Thursday that he’ll leave Paris Saint-Germain when his contract ends this summer – is negotiating with MLS and eyeing the LA Galaxy. While LA are the likely destination for the Swede if he lands in the league, we thought it’d be fun to outline five MLS clubs where he’d make a great fit.
Some of these cities make sense for cultural reasons, others for soccer ones. One – LA, naturally – works really well for both. Let's start there:
The most successful club in MLS history has been the best in the league at integrating big foreign stars, with David Beckham and Robbie Keane headlining the list of those to experience serious success in LA. The Galaxy certainly aren’t short on glamour this year, with Keane joined by Giovani dos Santos, Steven Gerrard, Nigel de Jong and US national team forward Gyasi Zardes. Zlatan’s star might shine brighter than any of theirs individually, but LA are one of the only teams in the league where his fame wouldn’t be jarring. Exactly how they’d land him and where they’d play him are two glaring questions, but if anyone in MLS can figure it out, it’s Bruce Arena.
Oh, and those five titles with the potential for a Hollywood lifestyle? Those don’t hurt, either.
New York City FC
They don’t have anywhere near the on-field success of their West Coast counterparts, but NYCFC have shown no lack of ambition when it comes to bringing in big names. New York City would likely be a serious draw for Zlatan, who in addition to playing in Paris, has spent time in cosmopolitan cities Barcelona, Milan and Amsterdam during his career. The opportunity to play up top with David Villa and get service from former AC Milan teammate Andrea Pirlo isn’t such a bad selling point, either.
Like the Galaxy, NYCFC – who currently have the maximum three Designated Players – would have to do some maneuvering to land Zlatan, but the second-year club could certainly use the shot in the arm.
Masato Kudo is out indefinitely, Octavio Rivero is scuffling and Blas Perez – Wednesday’s Zlatan-esque bike notwithstanding – is up there in years. The 'Caps have plenty of attacking talent in Pedro Morales and Kekuta Manneh, but they need a star center forward to really vault themselves over the top. Put Zlatan in Vancouver – a true world city, by the way – and watch the rest of the West burn.
Columbus Crew SC
Columbus is certainly the smallest of these markets, but – stop me if you’ve heard this already – Crew SC are in the market for a striker. I’m not sure Zlatan would fit the club’s team-first philosophy, but he would definitely bag a few goals. With Kei Kamara in New England, Gregg Berhalter and Co. could certainly use some of those.
At some point in the not-too-distant past, the Union had Zlatan on their Discovery List. If that’s still true, then any and all MLS roads to signing the Swede run through the City of Brotherly Love. For that reason, and for this image I can't shake of Zlatan running up the Rocky Steps at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Union make the list.