CARSON, Calif. – Talk that Zlatan Ibrahimovic could join the LA Galaxy, possibly as early as next week, has filtered down to the team, naturally. And the reaction is what you'd expect.
Fantastic! If it happens, that is.
“I know that guy is an incredible presence, and it's one of the biggest players in the world,” Norwegian forward Ola Kamara told MLSsoccer.com on Wednesday following LA's first StubHub Center training session since returning from a week in Arizona. “When you're playing for the Galaxy, that's what you expect.”
ESPN last week reported that the 36-year-old Manchester United star, whom the Galaxy pursued a year ago, was in talks with club officials and that he would be acquired via Targeted Allocation Money. That would mean the deal would not impact the statuses of Designated Players Giovani and Jonathan Dos Santos and Frenchman Romain Alessandrini.
Galaxy president Chris Klein wouldn't discuss the Swedish forward when asked how far discussions had progressed.
“We're nowhere,” he said. “We wouldn't comment on it.”
Asked to affirm that talks were ongoing, Klein declined.
“We wouldn't [confirm that],” he said. “It's unfair, because he's contracted to another club.”
Ibrahimovic's contract with Manchester United runs through summer, but he made just seven just seven first-team appearances this season after returning from a torn anterior cruciate ligament and has been sidelined since late December after reinjuring his knee.
The initial injury, suffered in a UEFA Europa Cup match last April, nearly ended Ibrahimovic's career, and he said in November that it was more “significant” than initially reported. That could limit his effectiveness with the Galaxy, if he's acquired, but the upside could be enormous.
“I don't know if it's going to happen,” said Gio Dos Santos. “I respect him. I think he's one of the best players in history, you know, the greatest striker. A player like him, I think, is welcome in every team.”
Galaxy coach Sigi Schmid has assembled a strong attacking group, with Kamara and veteran winger Chris Pontius joining a group that returns the Dos Santos brothers, Alessandrini and winger Emmanuel Boateng and has winger Sebastian Lletget back from a foot injury that limited him to three club appearances last season.
Ibrahimovic has won some 25 major trophies and scored more than 400 goals over 19 years at Malmo, Ajax, Juventus, Inter Milan, Barcelona, AC Milan, Paris Saint-Germain and, since July 2016, Manchester United. He netted 62 goals in 116 caps for Sweden, playing in two World Cups and four European Championships.
Kamara, who scored 34 goals the past two seasons for Columbus, wouldn't mind teaming up with Ibrahimovic.
“We'll see [if it happens], but it's one of the best attacking players in the world,” he said. “Of course, he's been struggling a little bit with knee injuries, but we'll see.”
Schmid says he hasn't put any thought into how he'd integrate Ibrahimovic into the group.
“If it happens, it happens, and once it happens, then we'll give thought to it,” he said. “Right now, it's preparing the group that I have and preparing the group that I have to win games.
“He's a big player. Big players have an impact on your team, whether that's Zlatan or whether that's [Leo] Messi or a Neymar – guys like that have an impact on your team. Obviously, he's been a successful player, he's won trophies everywhere he's been, but until it happens, I'm not going to worry about it.”