The Zlatan Ibrahimovic-to-MLS chatter just keeps growing louder.
Since the confirmation of his departure from French club Paris Saint-Germain, multiple reports have cropped up claiming that the Swedish megastar is mulling options in China, MLS and at Manchester United, and on Friday Sky Italia journalist Alessandro Alciato tweeted that Ibra was "90 percent" likely to join up with the LA Galaxy's star-studded squad.
It's far from certain where Zlatan will wind up, however. The Galaxy would have to make major roster moves to carve out space for the charismatic scorer, and Sports Illustrated's Grant Wahl reported that enormous wages could be dangled in his path by the cash-flush Chinese league:
Then on Saturday, France-based journalist Johnny Severin reckoned that an English Premier League experience may prove most tempting for Ibra:
PSG announced on Friday that the mercurial striker will not return to the club after his contract expires at the end of June, and Alciato reported on Thursday that the mercurial Swedish striker would like to move to LA.
ESPN FC’s Jeff Carlisle and Doug McIntyre added further credence to Alciato’s report on Friday, when they reported that Ibrahimovic is in discussions to play in MLS. Galaxy president Chris Klein declined to comment on Ibrahimovic when contacted by ESPN, but one source told Carlisle and McIntyre that if he reaches an agreement with MLS, his destination would be the Galaxy.
The Galaxy already have the league limit of three Designated Players on their roster in Robbie Keane, Giovani dos Santos and Steven Gerrard, and already used Targeted Allocation Money earlier this year to acquire Nigel de Jong and Jelle Van Damme.
While it’d be difficult to envision a scenario where the Galaxy could fit Ibrahimovic on their roster without jettisoning out one of those players, Alciato gave LA a “90 percent” chance of landing Ibrahimovic on Thursday. He also claimed that English club Manchester United are in the mix for the 34-year-old striker.
Complicating any potential LA move for Ibrahimovic is a photo that made the rounds on Twitter on Wednesday. Apparently taken by a Philadelphia Union season ticket holder “a few weeks ago,” the picture purports to depict the players on the Union’s Discovery List, and includes Ibrahimovic and English center back John Terry, among others.
When contacted, a Union spokesperson advised not to read too deeply into the photo.
“The image in question does accurately depict some of our discovery list as of a month ago,” the spokesperson wrote in an email to MLSsoccer.com. “However, as is the nature of the list, ours will continue to evolve as the season progresses.”
The original tweet was eventually deleted, but the photo – which also includes rumored FC Gronigen midfielder Michael de Leeuw, a rumored Chicago Fire target, and Tromso’s Aron Sigurdarson, who scored for Iceland against the US in January – was preserved on SB Nation Union site The Brotherly Game.
Every team in MLS maintains a Discovery List, a running collection of up to seven players not under contract with an MLS club who have been identified as desirable acquisitions for that team. Having a player on its Discovery List grants a team that player’s MLS rights. Players can be included on the Discovery Lists of multiple MLS clubs, and priority is given to the club that added the player to its list first.
In order to maintain leverage in potential negotiations, Discovery Lists are not publicly disclosed, and they can change at any time as teams’ priorities and targets shifts.
According to MLS’s roster rules, if a club wants to sign a player who is on another club’s Discovery List or for whom another club has the Discovery priority, it may offer $50,000 in General Allocation Money in exchange for the right to sign the player. The team with the player on their Discovery List will then either have to accept the General Allocation Money and give up the right to sign said player or make the player “a genuine, objectively reasonable offer.”
Even if a team holds a player’s Discovery rights, a great deal more has to fall into place for an international signing to take place. The team and player must agree to contract terms, and if the player is still under contract at another club (something that won’t apply with Ibrahimovic), the two teams must agree on the terms of his transfer.
Ibrahimovic joined PSG in 2012, helping the club to Ligue 1 titles in all four of his seasons in Paris. PSG’s all-time leading scorer with 152 goals in 178 games across all competitions, the Swedish striker was named Ligue 1 Player of the Year three times in his four years in France.
In addition to the championships at PSG, Ibrahimovic has won league titles with Ajax, Juventus, Inter Milan, Barcelona and AC Milan. Sweden’s all-time leading scorer with 62 goals in 112 career senior team appearances, he has only missed out on league titles twice – in the 2002-03 season with Ajax and in the 2010-11 campaign with AC Milan – in the last 15 European seasons.
Ibrahimovic, who said in a statement that he came to PSG "like a king" and will "leave like a legend," tweeted on Friday morning that he’ll start his “new project” on June 7.